World Cement - January 2024

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January 2024


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REGIONAL REPORT: GLOBAL FORECAST 10 Cement 2024 – Stagflation Imran Akram, IA Cement, provides a summary of the Cement 2024 research report, which details expected trends, risks, and trade flows for the cement industry in 2024.

AIR CANNONS 42 Revamping Cleaning In Riser Ducts Connor Shelton, Dracyon, discusses the importance of using up-to-date air cannons to solve build-up issues in modern cement plants. 47 Air Cannons Blast Onto The Scene Guillaume Dairin, STANDARD INDUSTRIE, emphasises the necessity of air cannons for the prevention of production stoppages.

COVER STORY: MODULAR GRINDING PLANTS 16 Grinding Away In South America Ramón Khamg, Cementos Bío Bío S.A., and Fernando Dueñas, CEMENGAL, detail the advantages of prefab and modular grinding plants through a case study of two recently delivered plants in Northern Chile and Southern Peru.

DECARBONISATION 52 Looking To The Future Of Cement Michele Di Marino & Stefano Zampaletta, Cementir Group & Casper Mathiasen, Unicon A/S, explore the role of new cement and concrete formulations in leading the cement industry towards a net zero future.

REFRACTORIES 21 Rethinking Refractory Lining Henrik Andersen, HASLE Refractories, discusses the role of refractory lining in clinker coolers, and explains how short lining lifetimes can be addressed with a specialised modular precast lining system.

59 Making A True Net-Zero Cement Dr Leah Ellis, Sublime Systems, explains how electrochemistry and non-carbonate feedstocks can be used to shrink cement’s carbon footprint.

27 A Masterclass In Castables Herbert Hoenl, REFKO, outlines the benefits of a new castable magnesia spinel solution which promises new opportunities for rotary kiln lining repair. 30 Reducing CO2 With Refractory Linings Makoto Ohno, Shiho Takeuchi and Yasutaka Yoshimi, MINO CERAMIC CO., LTD., consider the role of refractory linings in rotary kilns when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

63 Seeking Decarbonisation Solutions Compact Membrane Systems explores a membrane-based carbon separation solution for cement decarbonisation, set to be piloted in the field in early 2024. 66 The Green Perks Of Predictive Maintenance Manpreet Singh, CTO at Nanoprecise Sci Corp, answers questions about predictive maintenance solutions and how they can contribute to sustainability.

35 World Cement’s Refractory Review 2024 The World Cement Refractory Review provides a catalogue of some of the leading players in the refractory sector. This year’s edition includes contributions from: Bricking Solutions, HASLE Refractories, Krosaki AMR Refractarios, MINO CERAMIC CO., LTD, REFKO and SILICON.

January 2024 November 2023


CEMENGAL is a Spanish engineering company specialising in the design, construction and commissioning of technical solutions for the cement industry. With over 30 years of experience in the industry and projects all over the world, CEMENGAL invented the Modular and Portable Grinding Station. CEMENGAL offers the best solution for small grinding projects with its modular and portable Plug&Grind® system, offering production capacities ranging from 90 000 tpy to more than 500 000 tpy with ball mill and VRM technology.



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Annual subscription (published monthly): £160 UK including postage/£175 (€245) overseas (postage airmail)/US$280 USA/Canada (postage airmail). Two year subscription (published monthly): £256 UK including postage/£280 (€392) overseas (postage airmail)/US$448 USA/Canada (postage airmail). Claims for non receipt of issues must be made within 4 months of publication of the issue or they will not be honoured without charge. Applicable only to USA and Canada: WORLD CEMENT (ISSN No: 0263-6050, USPS No: 020-996) is published monthly by Palladian Publications, GBR and is distributed in the USA by Asendia USA, 17B S Middlesex Ave, Monroe NJ 08831. Periodicals postage paid at Philadelphia, PA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to World Cement, 701C Ashland Ave, Folcroft PA 19032 Copyright © Palladian Publications Ltd 2023. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. All views expressed in this journal are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher, neither do the publishers endorse any of the claims made in the articles or the advertisements. Uncaptioned images courtesy of Adobe Stock. Printed in the UK. Palladian Publications Ltd 15 South Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7QU, UK Tel +44 (0)1252 718999 Email: Website:

January 2024 World Cement



appy New Year everyone! With the festive season behind us and (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) a couple more months of short, dark days and rainy weather ahead, it’s important to have something to look forward to. After all, who doesn’t need a little something to keep up morale during what is generally regarded as the gloomiest time of the year? A time when those hastily made New Year’s Resolutions start to take their toll, when festive treats are switched out in favour of ‘Veganuary’ or ‘Dry January’, when you’re reminded that Mince Pies are (inexplicably) not available year round, when that first direct debit payment for a new (as yet, possibly permanently, unused) gym membership is paid out, and let’s not forget ‘Divorce Day’… It gives me great pleasure then to remind you that World Cement’s EnviroTech conference and exhibition is taking place on 10 – 13 March in Lisbon, Portugal. Mark your calendar and join professionals from around the world to network, share insights, and discuss the cement industry’s journey to Net Zero. Featuring three days of technical presentations and analysis from industry leaders and technical experts, multiple networking events, a 20+ stand exhibition, interactive Q&A sessions, an extended panel discussion, and a tour of the nearby Secil-Outão plant, EnviroTech is not to be missed. Our venue, the wonderful Hotel Cascais Miragem, is located directly in front of the Atlantic Ocean, overlooking Estoril and Cascais Bay, and features five-star accommodation, high-quality restaurants, multiple pools, and even a spa. And what’s more, you can (for a limited time only) save €250 on tickets, simply head over to and book your place via the ‘Register Now’ button to secure your discount! How’s that for something to look forward to? In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the January issue of World Cement, which is packed full of interesting content. By way of example, we are once again kicking things off with IA Cement’s executive summary of their annual forecast for the year ahead (pg. 10), which details expected trends, risks, and trade flows for the cement industry in 2024. This issue also includes a strong focus on the topic of refractories, including technical content from HASLE Refractories (pg. 21), REFKO (pg. 27), and Mino Ceramic CO., LTD. (pg. 30), as well as the 2024 edition of the annual World Cement Refractory Review, which showcases some of the sector’s foremost refractory suppliers. And of course, we have a number of articles devoted to the topic of decarbonisation, including Cementir Group’s exploration of the role of new cement and concrete formulations in leading the cement industry towards a net zero future (pg. 52). I hope you enjoy all of the above, along with everything else we’ve packed into this issue, and I wish you a happy and successful year ahead. 3

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Cemex awarded EU Horizon grant for waste to green hydrogen technology

Global building materials supplier Cemex has announced that it is part of the HYIELD consortium, which has been awarded a €10 million grant from the European Union for the R&D to develop a Waste to Hydrogen demonstration plant. The HYIELD project has been approved for funding in response to the Horizon Europe call ‘Waste to Hydrogen demonstration plant (HORIZON-JTI-CLEANH2-2023-01-05)’. The call is led by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership (Clean Hydrogen JU), the body that oversees EU funding and R&I activities related to hydrogen, with the objective of supporting the EU Green Deal and Hydrogen Strategy. Europe currently produces 300 million t of waste with the potential to produce over 30 million t of green hydrogen. It is this potential that HYIELD aims to unlock. During the four-year project, novel technologies and processes will be integrated to efficiently and robustly convert biogenic waste streams into high purity green hydrogen at a very competitive cost, to demonstrate its application to help decarbonise different sectors, including shipping, aviation and energy intensive industry. The demonstration scale waste-to-hydrogen plant will be trialled at Cemex’s Alcanar cement factory in Spain. During the project, the plant is expected to process over 2000 t of waste and produce nearly 400 t of green hydrogen which will be proved for different industry uses such as clean fuels, fertilizers production and others. Sergio Menendez, President of Cemex EMEA, commented: “As part of its drive to reaching net zero by 2050, Cemex is committed to partnering with like-minded organisations to explore the very latest innovations in more sustainable technology that can support the cement production process. We are proud to provide one of our cement plants in Spain as the location for the HYIELD trial and excited to see the outcomes from this R&D project.” Alongside Cemex, the HYIELD project consortium is under the coordination of MAGTEL and made up of other two key portfolio companies; WtEnergy Advanced Solutions and Synhelion; Spanish partners H2SITE, VEOLIA, ENAGAS, EURECAT, CETAQUA, Inveniam Group, CISC and La Farga; along with January 2024 World Cement

other partners from across Europe; MINCATEC, SINTEF, ARISTENG and ArcelorMittal. Senior officials of HYIELD, said: “We are delighted to be a participant of this impactful R&D project that brings together a wide range of skills and experience from across research, tech, energy and heavy industry. We hope the project can open a new low-cost pathway for clean green hydrogen production in Europe, as well as creating new opportunities for waste valorisation and job creation.” The consortium brings to the project experience in waste management, hydrogen production and thermo-chemical processes to address this challenge. The project will pave the way for commercial scale-up and replication of waste-to-hydrogen plants across Europe.

ACC wins award for its sustainable co-processing practices ACC, the cement and building material company of the diversified Adani Group, has been bestowed with the ‘Excellence Award in Co-processing’ at the 13th International Conference on Sustainable Waste Management & Circular Economy (IconSWE-CE) and IPLA Global Forum 2023, acknowledging the company’s remarkable efforts in sustainability. ACC’s Wadi and Chanda units were presented awards, at an event held at K J Somaiya Institute of Management, shedding light on their exemplary efforts in implementing sustainable co-processing practices. The company’s waste management arm ‘Geoclean’ offers sustainable waste management solutions to the agricultural, industrial, public, and municipal sectors. Through co-processing the waste from these sectors, the company is contributing to a cleaner environment and conserving natural resources through replacement of traditional fuels with alternate fuels & raw materials (AFR). Co-processing ensures recovery of energy and recycling of materials from waste, leaving zero residue. Mr Ajay Kapur, CEO, Cement Business, said, “This recognition highlights our dedication to a substantial change that improves the environmental impact. We are honoured to have received recognition and awards for our efforts in the circular economy. Through our Geoclean platform, we provide the finest possible contribution to the ethical co-processing of garbage for a sustainable future.” 5



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ACC continues to prioritise sustainability in its operations, aligning with its commitment to excellence. The accolade not only acknowledges ACC’s current achievements but also reinforces its dedication to pioneering sustainable practices in the cement industry.

TITAN joins Industrial Transition Accelerator (ITA) at COP28

In a strategic move towards fostering a more sustainable and resilient future, TITAN joined the Industrial Transition Accelerator (ITA), an initiative launched during COP28, pledging to accelerate the decarbonisation of heavy industries on a large scale. TITAN will collaborate with leading global players across various sectors to collectively reshape the industrial landscape, promote climate-related innovation, and expedite progress toward World Cement Conference: achieving net zero emissions. Join cement industry professionals Leonidas Canellopoulos, TITAN’s Chief Sustainability from around the world for and Innovation Officer, emphasised: “By endorsing the ITA World Cement’s first in-person Participation Principles and uniting with like-minded pioneers conference and exhibition! across sectors, we are committed to a collective endeavor focused on action and delivery. Together, we can achieve remarkable 10 – 13 March, 2024 cross-sectoral decarbonisation outcomes, leaving behind a legacy Lisbon, Portugal of responsible leadership that no one can accomplish alone.” Committed to science-based CO2 reduction targets in line with Register today to save €250! Visit: the 1.5˚C scenario and aiming for net zero by 2050, TITAN has made remarkable strides in decarbonisation. The company has meticulously outlined a clear net zero roadmap, encompassing over 100 value-generating initiatives throughout its value chain. Championing breakthrough innovation, such as leveraging carbon capture and hydrogen use, TITAN focuses not only on decarbonising its manufacturing processes but also on providing customers with more sustainable products and solutions. The goal is to increase the share of green products in its portfolio to surpass 60% by 2030. In recognition of its leadership in corporate transparency and performance on climate change, TITAN has been awarded a top ‘A’ score by the environmental non-profit organisation CDP.


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Heidelberg Materials North America’s Edmonton & Delta Cement Plants receive ENERGY STAR Certification Heidelberg Materials North America has announced that its cement plants in Edmonton, Alberta, and Delta, British Columbia, have earned Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) ENERGY STAR for Industry Certification. This signifies that the facility performs in the top quartile of similar facilities in Canada and the United States for energy efficiency. “We are pleased to accept the ENERGY STAR for Industry Certification in recognition of our energy efficiency efforts at our World Cement January 2024


Edmonton and Delta cement plants in Canada”, said Oliver Patsch, President of Heidelberg Materials North America’s Northwest Region. “Energy efficiency is a key part of our commitment to operational excellence and also helps lower our overall environmental footprint.” Earning ENERGY STAR for Industry Certification highlights the status of these two facilities within the top quartile of cement plants in Canada and the United States with regard to energy performance. It is also reflective of Heidelberg Materials’ efforts to improve its energy performance by managing energy strategically across the entire organisation. Energy efficiency is one of many aspects that Heidelberg Materials targets to protect the climate, preserve resources, reduce emissions and have the lowest possible impact on the environment at its production facilities. Heidelberg Materials North America has operational efficiency and energy optimisation programmes in place across all its business lines and the company strives to continually improve its performance in these areas.

CRH continues share buyback programme CRH plc has announced that it has completed the latest phase of its share buyback programme, returning a further US$1.0 billion of cash to shareholders. Between 25 September and 20 December 2023, 17.1 million ordinary shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange and on the London Stock Exchange were repurchased. This brings total cash returned to shareholders under the company’s ongoing share buyback programme to US$7 billion since its commencement in May 2018. CRH also announced that it has entered into an arrangement with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (‘Citi’) to repurchase ordinary shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange on CRH’s behalf for an aggregate maximum consideration of US$300 million (the ‘Buyback’). The Buyback commenced 21 December 2023, and will end no later than 28 February 2024. This US$300 million tranche is the final stage of the wider US$3 billion programme announced on 2 March 2023. Citi will conduct the Buyback on CRH’s behalf and will make trading decisions under the Buyback 8

independently of CRH in accordance with certain pre-set parameters. The maximum number of ordinary shares which may be acquired pursuant to the Buyback is 18 000 000. The purpose of the Buyback is to reduce the share capital of CRH. The Buyback will be conducted within the parameters prescribed by (i) Rule 10b5-1 and Rule 10b-18 under the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and (ii) the EU Market Abuse Regulation (596/2014) and Commission Delegated regulation (EU) 2016/1052 as such legislation forms part of retained EU law in the United Kingdom (as defined in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018) and as amended pursuant to the UK’s Market Abuse (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (as may be amended and/or supplemented from time to time). No repurchases will be made outside of the United States. The repurchased ordinary shares will be cancelled. Any decision in relation to any future buyback programme will be based on an ongoing assessment of the capital needs of the business and general market conditions.

Power Cement to export to Europe Power Cement has marked a significant milestone as it enters the European market with the export of its cement to the United Kingdom. This move not only demonstrates Power Cement’s commitment to global expansion but also positions the company as a force in the international construction materials arena, and notably as the first Pakistani cement exporter to enter the UK market. Power Cement’s inaugural European shipment strategically diversifies its global footprint. Mr Saifuddin A. Khan, Director Export Marketing at Power Cement, expressed enthusiasm about this achievement, stating, “Entering the European market and exporting our cement to the UK, is a testament to the high standards and excellence that Power Cement upholds, Power Cement is able to customise the packaging as per the requirements of the buyer, and we are excited about the opportunities this presents. We look forward to becoming a trusted partner in the construction sector in the UK and contributing to the economic progress of Pakistan through foreign exchange earnings.” World Cement January 2024

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Cement 2024 – stagflation Imran Akram, IA Cement, provides a summary of the Cement 2024 research report, which details expected trends, risks, and trade flows for the cement industry in 2024.


he Cement 2024 research report, published by IA Cement in London, provides a comprehensive look at expected trends in 2024. The report takes a detailed outlook at consumption prospects around the world, as well as a review of key risks, competitive pressures and trading flows. It examines the world’s leading producers, and analyses the key topics of carbon emissions and the effect of high interest rates on cement consumption. This article presents a summary from the report, analysing 2024 demand prospects by region. Global cement consumption has been lacklustre ever since the pandemic. A series of unfortunate events have impacted demand – covid lockdowns, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and a surge in global inflation. Demand is expected to drop slightly in 2023 with only India and the Middle East showing notable growth. Cement prices have broadly caught up with cost pressures, yielding a recovery in profit margins. In 2024, a mild recovery is predicted in global cement consumption, in the range of 1 – 2%. GDP is depicted by the IMF as “limping along.” Interest rates appear to have peaked, but are expected to come down only gradually due to sticky inflation. This has substantially raised the cost of financing new construction projects. Pandemic savings have mostly been exhausted, and mature market nations carry very high debt. Cement demand in Western Europe is lacklustre. US consumption is underpinned by its infrastructure bill. Demand in emerging markets is very mixed. China is expected to stabilise, although real estate is still declining. Recovery in Africa and Asia is predicted to be uneven. India is likely to experience a slowdown post-election. Seaborne trading markets struggled in 2023, impacted by weak demand and falling export prices. Lower production costs and falling freight rates make exports increasingly viable. Import demand in 2024 is projected to pick up only gradually however, hampering a trade recovery. Exports from Türkiye are a key swing factor, as the diversion of exports to the domestic market in 2023 may reverse out.

Western Europe – the interest rate squeeze


The region faces a third year of falling cement demand in 2024, although the rate of decline is expected to moderate significantly. Interest rates are increasingly squeezing the economy, EU recovery funds are proving complex to administer, and most


countries carry very high national debt ratios following the pandemic. At the country level, Germany is by far the worst-affected major market. A further significant decline is forecast for 2024 cement demand. Housing is in freefall, construction companies are going bankrupt, and public works face cutbacks after a recent court ruling on government spending. The UK is expected to decline due to major cutbacks in housing construction. Other key markets – France, Italy and Spain – are expected to see a small increase in demand. Nordic countries endured a very difficult year in 2023, and a further deterioration is expected next year.

Eastern Europe – bottoming out

Central Europe has been hit hard by rising inflation, which pushed interest rates towards the mid-teens. This led to a severe decline in housing markets in the likes of Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. A bottoming out process is underway, and a slight growth in cement demand is predicted in 2024. The European Union has withheld billions of Euros in funding from Poland and Hungary. Any release of cash could boost the level of public works. In the warzone itself, cement consumption has increased in both Ukraine and Russia. Further modest growth is projected in 2024, even in the absence of conflict resolution.

US – supported by public works

The US is firing on multiple cylinders. Record public expenditure, heavy investment in nearshoring, and consumers spending their pandemic savings have all helped to underpin economic activity. The housing market has defied expectations of downturn, maintaining an unusual balance. Lower demand due to high rates and home prices has

been matched by a sharp reduction in the supply of homes, as existing owners stay put in order to retain their low-cost mortgages. Demand for cement is forecast to rise in 2024 at a 2 – 3% rate. A challenging housing market is expected to be offset as volumes from the US$1.5 trillion infrastructure bill ramp up, with spending peaking in the period 2024 – 2026.

Latin America – mixed picture

The cement demand outlook in Latin America is mixed. Overall, IA Cement expects a modest increase in 2024 cement demand, as growth in Mexico and Brazil is offset by a decline in Argentina. The Milei election win brings significant economic uncertainty to Argentina, which is expected to result in a sharp drop in cement demand. Growth in Colombia has suffered a setback, as surging inflation has sent interest rates up to over 13%. Brazil has turned an economic corner, with cooling inflation paving the way for interest rate cuts. Cement demand is expected to increase 2 – 3% in 2024, driven by rising public works and social housing. Mexico is a major beneficiary of nearshoring, which has led to an investment boom. Long-delayed public works have picked up ahead of elections in June 2024, helping to offset a subdued housing market.

Middle East – solid GCC fundamentals

Demand growth is expected to slow to 2 – 3% in 2024, although forecasts in major markets Türkiye and Saudi Arabia carry a high degree of uncertainty. GCC countries are expanding their non-oil economies, while low inflation due to the dollar peg is attracting foreign investment. The UAE property market is booming, bringing a return of large development projects and off-plan sales

Global cement demand outlook, 2024E. 12

World Cement January 2024

to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Saudi market has been very weak in 2023 due to a decline in housing. A rebound is projected for 2024, but this is likely to be H2-weighted as mega projects such as Neom get underway. Iraq is expected to post strong growth due to a surge in the public budget. In Türkiye the market is expected to decline, as a major reset in interest rates offsets reconstruction from the February 2023 earthquakes.

Africa – recovery underway

Several major cement markets experienced falling demand in 2023, as high inflation led to increased interest rates and elevated cement prices. A modest recovery is projected in 2024 with demand increasing in the range of 1.5 – 2%. A further decline is expected in Egypt due to economic weakness, with producers looking to increase exports as a result. The Algerian market is in a strong recovery mode, boosted by government plans for housing, urban development and public works. In South Africa the crippling power shortages are set to ease, with many companies investing in captive power. This is expected to underpin a demand recovery, although political uncertainty and constrained government finances are significant headwinds. Kenya and Nigeria both faced a difficult year in 2023, with a moderate recovery projected in 2024. Demand could accelerate in Nigeria if talk of a cement price war translates into reality.

China – relatively stable

The pace of decline in the Chinese cement market has moderated during 2023, as rising public works have been offset by ongoing weakness in the real estate segment. Cement prices have fallen significantly however, reducing profit margins to below the industry average. Imports have almost completely dried up. Looking forward, IA Cement anticipates a stable rate of cement consumption in 2024. Public works spending is expected to increase, although a large-scale stimulus is not on the agenda. Real estate has not yet bottomed out, with unit sales and prices still under pressure. There are also concerns that cement is losing market share as the Chinese construction industry becomes more developed.

India – solid conditions

The cement market in India has been one of the very few globally to experience red-hot demand in 2023. The key catalysts have been pre-election spending ahead of Q2 2024 elections, a recovery in urban real estate and a slow monsoon which allowed for more working days. These drivers will make for tougher comparisons in 2024 – public works are likely to slow after the elections and rural demand may stagnate. Urban housing is projected to remain robust however, pointing to January 2024 World Cement

an overall cement demand increase of 5 – 6%. Ambitious industry expansion plans suggest the supply-demand balance is unlikely to improve.

Asia – a slow recovery

Regional cement demand has proven disappointing in 2023, with consumption falling sharply in several markets. Slow disbursement of public works and high interest rates have resulted in cement demand growth significantly underperforming GDP. A tepid rebound is forecast in 2024, with cement demand increasing by only 1%. The Philippines market is poised to recover as public works offset sluggish private demand. Growth in Indonesia is expected to be modest due to the election cycle and lacklustre housing. Cement producers in Vietnam have endured a very difficult year in 2023, with rising interest rates and scandals crushing the housing market at the same time as clinker exports to China have dried up. Given the pace of decline, it seems likely that the first half of 2024 will remain challenging with stimulus measures potentially bringing stability in H2. In Thailand, public works have supported cement demand despite months of political uncertainty, and are expected to be the main driver of modest demand growth in 2024. Japan is predicted to be relatively stable as urban redevelopment and spending ahead of the Osaka Expo are offset by labour shortages and high raw material costs. Prospects in Malaysia are bright as all segments of demand have returned to growth. In South Asia, Sri Lanka has emerged from its economic crisis and demand has stabilised at a low level. Recovery in Bangladesh has recently been derailed by industrial unrest, which has upended the transportation sector for weeks. Pakistan has seen cement shipments recover on the back of economic stabilisation, although political uncertainty remains high.


After two years of decline, the industry can look to a mild recovery in 2024 global cement demand. The Middle East and India stand out as relative bright spots, for the second year in succession. The interest rate cycle appears to have peaked, with a gradual easing likely in the coming months. A number of housing markets have crashed however, most notably in Germany and Vietnam. Cost pressures have abated, with profit margins generally returning to normal levels after the 2022 squeeze. Seaborne trading volumes are predicted to stabilise, as mild demand growth returns in several import markets.


The full report is priced at US$650 from IA Cement. Details are available at or by emailing: 13


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Ramón Khamg, Chief Development Officer at Cementos Bío Bío S.A., and Fernando Dueñas, Sales Manager at CEMENGAL, detail the advantages of prefab and modular grinding plants through a case study of two recently delivered plants in Northern Chile and Southern Peru.


fter the success of the Puerto Arica project, Cementos Bío Bío S.A. (CBB) decided to replicate the experience with CEMENGAL. This time, an order was placed for a new Plug&Grind® XL modular grinding unit which was installed at the new industrial site located on the outskirts of Matarani, a city in Northern Chile with active fishing, agriculture, and mining sectors. The Plug&Grind XL mill in the Matarani plant has been in operation since 2021. Prior to delivery of the grinding plant, peripheral equipment like storage halls, cement silos, and expedition facilities were already advanced as these were part of the client’s scope. Thanks to the mill’s portability advantages, its modular configuration, and short delivery time, CBB was able to reduce the timing and cost of the overall project in order to satisfy the cement demand of local projects by early 2022. Other technical risks often associated with industrial projects like demurrages on logistics, site installation, and the construction of deep foundations were also largely mitigated. The Plug&Grind XL plant is amongst the most modern systems for cement grinding, separation, and filtration, achieving enhanced performance values in terms of production capacity for ultrafine cements, reduced power consumption, and efficient recovery of dust in accordance with European environmental regulations.

Project background

Over the last few years, CBB has focused its expansion strategy in Northern Chile with the main objective being the sustainable development of its integrated cement and concrete activities. As a result of this strategy, the first modular grinding plant supplied by CEMENGAL was built and commissioned in 2019 at the Puerto Arica site along with cement silos, and packing and expedition facilities. Later, after the Arica project, the CEO of CBB, Mr Enrique Lesaca, announced to the local Peruvian press a new industrial project in Matarani Port, Southern Perú, including some details of the investment, and expressed the group’s interest in the development of Peru’s southern regions. As part of the strategy, CBB decided to install a new production facility at a plant site in Matarani. Thus, in early 2019,


CEMENGAL was awarded with a contract to deliver a Plug&Grind modular grinding unit. The scope of the award included all the mechanical, electrical and automation equipment necessary for a modular ball mill circuit capable of producing 200 000 tpy of high strength cements, and premium products marketed in Peru.

Matarani plant technical details

The new cement grinding and distribution facilities at the Matarani factory are strategically located. The plant is close to various local pozzolan quarries, as well as the nearest port for the reception of clinker vessels sourced from different producers located in East Asia, like Japan, Vietnam, and China. The logic of the project was clear: a prefab mill grinding unit placed to ensure a quick implementation with clear possibilities for rapid expansion in the future. First cement was scheduled with urgency from the order formalisation to speed up the client’s engagements with local customers in the region. Both companies shared the same challenge, and the targets were clear: to avoid demurrage at ports and to reduce the risk of overspending on construction. On top of this, operational reliability, compliance with local environmental regulations, energy-efficiency, simplified production processes, and synergies with the existing facility in Puerto Arica in terms of spares

The Plug&Grind XL at the Arica Grinding Plant commissioned in 2019 in Northern Chile. About Cementos Bío Bío S.A. Cementos Bío Bío S.A. (CBB), a reference manufacturer of cement, lime and ready mix in Chile is a private company stocked on the Chilean Market and controlled by Inversiones Cementeras Ltd., an investing company that belongs to the holding of the founders, the Briones Family. Currently employing over 1200 staff across Chile and Peru, the production and distribution activities of CBB are based at their fully integrated plants in Antofagasta and Curicó, three stand-alone grinding units at the sites of Talcahuano, Arica and Puerto Matarani, and several batching and aggregate plants for ready mix preparation. CBB also operates various lime production units across the country. 18

and process operations were also key to implementing this new Plug&Grind mill project. Following this scheme, CEMENGAL provided on a semi-turnkey basis: full engineering, procurement and supervision services for the complete grinding and cement dispatching line, ranging from raw material preparation, a Plug&Grind XL grinding unit for quick site installation, and packing facilities.

The Matarani industrial plant

The scope supplied by CEMENGAL was part of a complete new greenfield plant developed by CBB, through a multipackage contract for different supplies and services. In addition to the plant’s industrial equipment, the complete scope of works for CBB also included earthworks, water, and environmental works in accordance with an exhaustive EIA of the project along with architectural buildings, and civil and installation works at the plant. The raw materials are stored and handled indoors at warehouses constructed on reinforced concrete and steel structures in accordance with Chilean and Peruvian geotechnical and structural norms – one of the most exigent codes in the world due to the region’s high seismic activity. All the electrical cables for power supply between the different workshops of the plant were installed underground through trenches. The compressed air network and other utilities like water are also protected with high isolation materials. All the motors are equipped with electrical resistors to heat up wires and critical components. To avoid condensation inside the process filters, a high performing liner was installed to ensure a high level of thermal isolation. The main components of the grinding plant include a modular Plug&Grind XL circuit of about 1450 kW installed power for 220 000 tpy (referenced to standard cements) with feed bins, mill circuit, and auxiliary components on transportable modules. The Plug&Grind mill shop was supplied with a complete scope of mechanical, electrical and automation components that were preinstalled by CEMENGAL at its own workshops. As an extension of the mill shop, CEMENGAL supplied cement storage silos that are fully equipped with cement feeding, storage, filtration and bulk dispatching devices. After these silos, the final cement product is transferred to the bagging facilities which include modern packers and automatic palletisers.

Scope of the equipment

The heart of the plant is a two-compartment ball mill with dimensions of D3.0 m x L11.0 m. The grinding circuit is primarily equipped with a high efficiency separator by CEMENGAL – Osepa and a 50 000 m3/hr mill bag filter, all designed and built inside transportable modules by CEMENGAL. The plant was designed to produce about 200 000 tpy of CEM 42.5 and 52.5 – high strength World Cement January 2024

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CBB cements at a range of 28 – 32 tph following different mix recipes and medium to high Blaines from 4000 – 4600 cm2/gr commonly used for structural applications. The mill is fully engineered by CEMENGAL and its modular conceptual design permits the manufacturing and placement of the mill shell with accessories inside a transportable module at its final position. Due to its prefab configuration and weight optimisation, the plant can be easily installed at a very shallow slab foundation and can be dismantled if required. The ball mill is supported on roller bearings manufactured by SKF. Its main drive consists of a Siemens-Flender central drive unit composed of a planetary gear box and a motor actioned at low voltage with installed power of 1100 kW. The feed materials used for cement grinding include imported clinker, gypsum, and natural pozzolans sourced from local quarries in the region. These raw materials are stored indoors and transported to the grinding plant area by fully covered conveyor belts. The clinker and additives are dosed separately via HASLER weigh-feeders. After dosing, this fresh feed is transported to the mill inlet via fully enclosed belt conveyors to keep the facility free of any dust caused by the strong windy conditions. To ensure the most efficient clinker comminution, the ball mill is equipped with Magotteaux diaphragms and liners in the first chamber and second chamber. The fine material flows from the first to second chamber through a diaphragm, and the fines leave the mill through a discharge diagram. The two

The Plug&Grind XL at the Matarani Grinding Plant commissioned in 2021 in Southern Perú.

Panoramic view of the Matarani plant with the Plug&Grind XL mill, silos and bulk dispatching facilities. 20

compartments of this Plug&Grind XL mill have an approximate filling degree of 30%. The first chamber is filled with Maxicrom grinding media of D60 – 90 mm and the second with Hardalloy grinding balls of D20 – 40 mm, both supplied by Magotteaux. The circuit is completed by an OSEPA 3G separator and a process bag filter designed and manufactured at CEMENGAL facilities that follow a modular configuration. The whole plant meets the European normative of environmental regulations to keep emissions under 10 mgr/m3 at the filter outlet. Regarding the electrical and automation system, the Plug&Grind XL plant is fully engineered by CEMENGAL’s engineering department to keep all the main electrical components like MCCs, PLC, VSDs and the cooling system fitted inside a containerised room. All power cables, low voltage and instrumentation devices are pre-installed at CEMENGAL workshops along trays and supports. These are fixed at origin inside the transportable modules to speed up the plant installation on site. Technologies from partners like Siemens, ABB and Schneider are the standard of the electrical and automation sub-supplies. The connection works with the control room are thus simple and fast.


The Plug&Grind modular grinding configuration with a flexible ball mill equipment is a suitable solution for the quick implementation of a greenfield project. It is also well suited for achieving capacity expansion at a brownfield site that is unable to cope with either a strong cement demand, or limitations on the existing equipment to reach very high blaine cements with blended compositions. With Plug&Grind flexible plants, new investors and current producers can benefit from its advantages to achieve the first cement production in a shorter time and with a smaller budget. Since its official launch into the global market in 2013, CEMENGAL has supplied several Plug&Grind modular units in different regions: from South and Central America and The Caribbean, to North, East, and West Africa in the Sub-Saharan region, and from Western Europe to South East Asia with excellent results in terms of performance, reliability, safety and environmental protection. In addition to the traditional application for clinker grinding, CEMENGAL is today commissioning new units for grinding cementitious materials like slags, fly- and bottom ash, pozzolans and limestone fillers. Thanks to the advantages of the Plug&Grind system, CBB managed to meet the growing cement demand, both in terms of quality and quantity, for its clients in the Puerto Arica and Matarani market areas. World Cement January 2024

Henrik Andersen, HASLE Refractories, discusses the role of refractory lining in clinker coolers, and explains how short lining lifetimes can be addressed with a specialised modular precast lining system.



he clinker cooler plays a critical role in the cement manufacturing process by rapidly cooling the hot clinker leaving the kiln, thereby stabilising the C3S clinker phase and transforming the clinker into a manageable state for subsequent processing, grinding, and stable storage. Sustaining uninterrupted cooler operation during production is essential, and a crucial component is a robust refractory lining. However, the cooling air that passes through the clinker exerts significant stress on the refractory roof lining, especially in the hottest part of the cooler. This stress comes not only from the impact of the hot air stream on the lining’s surface but also from abrasion caused by dust and other particles suspended in the air. Additionally, the temperature fluctuations during operation contribute to thermal stress in the refractory lining, which can lead to issues like cracking and spalling. Beyond its cooling role, the grate cooler is a critical tool for enhancing overall process efficiency by recovering thermal energy, thereby minimising the plant’s environmental impact and optimising plant profitability. Strategies such as utilising secondary air in the kiln, introducing a tertiary air duct for heat reuse in the preheating process, or installing heat-recovery boilers, while beneficial, introduce complexity to the cooler’s design and operation. This complexity involves creating openings in the roof for air ducts and outlets along with altering the flow field of the air, which


consequently also can change the abrasion and wear pattern on the lining. While the primary cause of lining failure in the grate cooler is not usually attributed to the increased use of alternative fuels, the associated chemical attacks could potentially also impact lining lifetime, adding another layer of consideration to the durability of refractory linings in the area.

A short refractory lifespan not only leads to increased maintenance costs, encompassing materials and man-hours, but also poses the risk of extended downtime and reduced production output. Additionally, repairing or relining the roof lining typically involves substantial efforts and equipment, including tasks such as scaffolding, comprehensive formwork, or handling of heavy blocks.

Hot zone presents a particular challenge

The HASLE precast Modular Lining System designed for roof applications. Enabling enhanced flexibility during installation, the precast elements interlock through tongue-and-groove joints. Each precast element is securely fastened with a bolt and washer, and smoothly slides into a steel rail welded to the roof casing. An insulating castable can be applied behind the precast elements for minimal heat loss.

HASLE Modular Lining during installation in 2018 in hot zone of the cooler roof at German cement plant. The relatively low weight of each precast element (15 – 16 kg), simplifies the installation process. 22

The clinker, entering the cooler at a temperature of approximately 1200˚C, undergoes a crucial cooling process in the ‘hot zone’ of the grate cooler. In this zone, which usually spans from the downfall and into the first two compartments of the grate cooler, the primary objective is to rapidly cool down the clinker. The cooling rate not only impacts the crystalline structure of the clinker but also influences its grindability. Therefore, achieving fast cooling in the hot zone is essential for producing high-quality cement. However, this rapid cooling generates a hot air stream laden with particles, putting significant stress on the roof lining of that section of the cooler. Consequently, a robust roof lining that withstands both abrasion and thermal shocks becomes imperative for ensuring a prolonged lining lifetime. As the clinker travels down through the grate cooler into the ‘cold zone’, characterised by clinker temperatures below 800˚C, ensuring a uniform temperature reduction throughout the clinker body becomes central. In this section, the primary concern shifts to the impact of abrasion on the refractory lining.

Durable and customised precast solution

As an alternative to traditional in-situ castings, the HASLE precast Modular Lining system includes roof, wall and angled elements for applications throughout the clinker cooler. The lining system is based on standardised 25 x 25 cm precast shapes, weighing only 15 – 16 kg each, meaning no special lifting equipment is needed during installation. Moreover, this modular system design facilitates easy customisation to suit the specific requirements of the cooler design. To achieve the highest quality, the precast elements are composed exclusively of virgin materials. The key to the exceptional strength lies in an optimised grain size matrix. This careful composition renders the precast elements exceptionally robust, World Cement January 2024

endowing them with excellent resistance to abrasion. Further, leveraging the refractory material’s high resistance to chemical attacks from both alkali, sulfates, and chlorides, the precast solution effectively minimises corrosion issues. The Modular Lining is manufactured under strict controls at HASLE’s facility in Denmark. Here, specialised casting equipment, such as vibration tables and tailor-made moulds, is used. The green precast bodies subsequently undergo a five-day pre-firing process, reaching a peak temperature of 500˚C. This carefully controlled procedure effectively eliminates all free and chemically-bound water, resulting in a low open porosity of just 8 – 10%, a marked improvement compared to the 15 – 20% typically found in in-situ cast linings of other materials. The outcome is an exceptionally smooth surface of the precast elements, boasting heightened resistance to abrasion.


From trial to lasting solution

In Germany, a 2300 tpd cement plant operating on 80% refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and 20% coal, faced a recurring challenge with a frustratingly short lifespan of the roof lining. Despite utilising precast shapes from another supplier, yearly replacements of the roof lining in the hot zone were the norm until they turned to HASLE for a lasting solution. In pursuit of a more durable solution to withstand the challenging conditions of high temperatures, abrasion and usage of alternative fuels affecting the roof lining, the German cement plant opted to conduct a trial, using approximately 6 m2 of HASLE Modular Lining in the hot zone. The installation, carried out in early 2018, was remarkably quick. Each precast element was securely fastened with a bolt and washer, smoothly sliding into a steel rail welded to the roof casing. The manageable weight of the precast elements further minimises installation time. Designed with tongue-and-groove joints on all four sides, the precast elements interlock and the joints are filled with 2 – 3 mm of mortar during installation. This approach minimises the penetration of gases into the insulation layer and anchoring system behind the elements. After six months of operation, a detailed inspection of the lining showed no signs of wear. Given the excellent condition of the roof lining, the plant decided to install an additional 8 m2 of HASLE’s precast Modular Lining. This supplementary installation was successfully completed in February 2019. The same Modular Lining has continued to operate seamlessly, now surpassing a five year lifespan without the need for any repairs. In a recent inspection conducted during a short

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shutdown in the summer of 2023, the precast roof lining was found to be in excellent condition and remains in service.

Customised lining

HASLE Modular Lining during installation in 2018 in the hot zone of the cooler roof at a German cement plant. Thermal expansion joints are incorporated at every metre.

Through the flexible anchoring system, the lining thickness can easily be adjusted to suit individual operating conditions and heat-loss requirements. The Modular Lining precast elements serve as an efficient hot-face lining, allowing for a backup lining behind them. By employing an insulating castable with low thermal conductivity, the heat generated from the clinker cooling process can be recuperated, ensuring optimal heat retention within the process. Furthermore, achieving a lining thickness as low as 185 mm is feasible while still maintaining a high insulation capability – thus providing additional production space and consequently increasing production capacity.

Finished installation of the HASLE Modular lining.

Gaining room for extra throughput

The same HASLE Modular Lining in the hot zone of the cooler roof in October 2023, five years after installation. 24

The 1400 tpd cement plant in Retznei, Austria, which is part of Holcim and exclusively uses alternative fuels in normal operation, sought a new solution for the cooler roof. The objective was to increase the cross-sectional area of the clinker cooler, addressing bottleneck issues and optimising throughput. To achieve this goal, the plant’s production team sought guidance from HASLE Refractories. Their challenge was to decrease lining thickness while preserving a high insulation capacity and ensuring prolonged lining durability. In March 2022, 20 m2 of HASLE precast Modular Lining was installed on the roof in the hot section of the clinker cooler. This installation was complemented by HASLE D59A castable for the bullnose area. With a lining thickness of 185 mm, “We gained 420 mm in World Cement January 2024

roof height; I had calculated with 300 mm. Perfect!” exclaimed Sebastian Mervar, Production Coordinator at Holcim, Plant Retznei. This adjustment facilitated the smoother passage of materials through the area, effectively addressing the plant’s operational challenges. An inspection in October 2022 showed that the roof lining was in good operational condition, much to the satisfaction of the plant production team. The lining continues to be in operation.

Further successes HASLE Modular Lining installation at Holcim Zementwerk Retznei, Austria. The adaptable anchoring system allows for a lining thickness as low as 185 mm. Looking to increase the cross-sectional area of the clinker cooler, it resulted in a gain of 420 mm in roof height compared to its previous solution.

40 m2 HASLE Modular Lining being installed in the cooler roof at German cement plant in 2018.

The HASLE precast Modular Lining has also demonstrated excellent performance in clinker cooler applications at other plants. A German cement plant, operating at 5000 tpd and relying on 82 – 95% RDF, was looking for a more durable refractory lining due to challenges posed by abrasion and substantial alkali attack from high RDF use. In 2018, the plant installed 40 m2 of HASLE’s precast Modular Lining covering the entire cooler roof. Remarkably, after five years, there is no visible wear, and the lining continues to be in operation. In Vietnam, a 5000 tpd cement plant operating on 70% coal and 30% alternative fuels (AF), was facing issues with short refractory life in the cooler bull nose area. The lifetime of the existing lining was no more than 8 – 12 months, meaning that the cement plant had to reline its cooler bull nose after each campaign. After installing a HASLE precast Modular Lining solution across the entire bull nose and hot zone cooler roof, they have now achieved a lining lifetime of four years. Through a longer refractory lifespan as well as enhanced operational and thermal efficiency, cement plants can conserve natural resources and reduce maintenance costs, resulting in a more sustainable and efficient operation.

About the author

The same HASLE Modular Lining after five years at a German cement plant. 26

Henrik Andersen is Area Sales Manager for HASLE Refractories. Henrik holds a bachelor’s degree in Export Trade and Technology and services for the Central and Northern European markets. Having a rich industrial experience spanning more than three decades, he has extensive theoretical and practical experience from on-site installations, and an in-depth understanding of refractory challenges and solutions. World Cement January 2024

A masterclass in castables Herbert Hoenl, REFKO, outlines the benefits of a new castable magnesia spinel solution which promises new opportunities for rotary kiln lining repair.


he development of a magnesia spinel castable is the next step in efforts to help cement plant operators with serious refractory problems in the hot part of the rotary kiln. Together with a state-of-the-art gunning material (REFKO Recovery MG 78), the new magnesia spinel-based castable (Vimag SP 86 B) provides a monolithic solution to manage and resolve critical failures of the standard brick lining. The benefits of the Recovery MG 78 gunning material have been described in detail in previous issues of World Cement. This material is already widely used in many cement plants, achieving reliable performance and significantly reducing the shutdown time caused by emergency stops. This article will instead focus on the newest addition to REFKO’s portfolio.

Kiln shell deformation

Some rotary kilns face serious kiln shell deformation issues that lead to the collapse of multiple rows of bricks in a short time of service, therefore necessitating a different approach to repair. Causes and consequences Kiln shell deformation can be caused by a range of factors. For example, overheating caused by extended operation of the kiln with refractory damage.


time-consuming, and expensive emergency shutdowns. A further consequence is an increased consumption of refractory material that, in the end, is an environmental issue in terms of the high CO2 consumption involved in the production of refractory bricks.

Or an overheated shell that becomes choked inside the tyre gear. The cause of deformation could even be as simple as a the steel shell being extremely worn by age. These kinds of damage are not easy to repair and, in most cases, ultimately require replacement of the deformed steel shell section. As such, repairs are time-consuming and expensive. Also, due to the long delivery time of steel shell segments, the cement plant will usually have no choice other than to operate the kiln with a deformed shell until a proper repair can be undertaken. With regard to refractories, such defects can also lead to an extremely short brick lining lifetime. Furthermore, with such a deformed steel shell, proper bricklaying is very complicated, or in some cases, close to impossible. This leads to refractory failures in the brick lining much faster than under good kiln shell conditions. In the worst cases, the brick lining can collapse after three weeks or less of operation. This forces the cement plant into many unplanned,

A castable solution

Table 1. Chemical composition comparison. VIMAG SP 86 B

Magnesia spinel brick


84 – 88

87 – 89



9 – 11







In such cases, a castable would be a perfect solution. The installation can be completed easily, even on a deformed steel shell. A castable can ‘follow’ the deformed shell structure, making a well-balanced lining possible; all without increasing mechanical stress inside the lining during operation. Consequently, people within the cement producing community have already been looking for a castable magnesia spinel solution. The Vimag SP 86 B product offers a castable solution and has similar properties to common magnesia spinel bricks. These properties were achieved by focusing on chemical composition, mechanical properties, thermoshock resistance, and the flexibility of the microstructure. REFKO also worked to ensure that, after a repair, the kiln can be heated up via the normal heating-up procedure. Chemical comparison In Table 1, a comparison between the Vimag SP 86 B and a widely sold magnesia spinel brick is shown. In comparison to the brick, the castable is a little lower in Al2O3 content. This could be caused by the slightly different spinel content.

Table 2. Physical and mechanical properties comparison.

Magnesia Spinel Brick

VIMAG SP 86 B After heating

In state of




BD (g/cm3)




3 – 3.05








BD= Bulk density CCS= Cold crushing strength

Figure 1. (Left) VIMAG SP 86 B with no cracks. (Right) Magnesia spinel brick with no cracks. 28

Physical and mechanical properties The results of a test (Table 2) demonstrate that the ratio of spinel to magnesia is perfect in terms of thermoshock resistance and flexibility of the microstructure. The slightly higher amount of SiO2 is a concept from REFKO, designed to produce the necessary properties for this new kind of magnesia spinel castable. As is typical for castable, the physical properties develop during the heating-up process. This normally achieves additional flexibility inside the lining. On the other hand, a brick is a fired product and is defined by its properties at the state of delivery. The magnesia spinel castable has a slightly lower bulk density. This is potentially advantageous regarding slightly better insulating properties. However, this will need to be investigated separately, once there has been time to monitor it during test installations. World Cement January 2024

In terms of cold crushing strength, the castable has the same or higher values than the brick. Thermal shock resistance (TSR) REFKO undertook an in-house test for TSR on magnesia-containing materials. The probes were heated up to 1200˚C and held at this temperature for 4 hours. The probes were then taken out of the furnace and allowed to cool down at normal room temperature for 30 minutes. After this, the probes were placed back into the furnace, which was still at 1200˚C. After being held at 1200˚C for another four hours, the cool down process started again. This was done 20 times, after which, an optical inspection of the probes was conducted. Neither the brick sample nor the castable sample showed any cracks after having cooled down 20 times (Figure 1). This is, for both products, a very good result. It can therefore be argued that Vimag SP 86 B is on the same level as common magnesia spinel bricks in terms of TSR. High temperature flexibility To find out if a castable has the same flexibility under load and, therefore, the same flexibility of the binding matrix of a brick, the following tests were undertaken: f Hot temperature modulus of rupture (HMOR). f Hot temperature Young‘s modulus/modulus of elasticity (E-Modulus). f Hot temperature deformation modulus (D-Modulus).

inspected for cracks. In this instance, no cracks were found after the test (Figure 3). Evidently, the rotary kiln can be heated up under the same heating-up schema that is valid for the normal start of a kiln after refractory repair.


Having completed various tests, REFKO has demonstrated that its magnesia spinel castable solution has similar properties to a common magnesia spinel brick. It is clear, therefore, that VIMAG SP 86 B is a suitable alternative to a brick in every situation where bricklaying is difficult to undertake. Or for other installation situations where a monolithic magnesia-spinel lining would be a more adequate solution. The first installation in a cement plant has just been completed, and updates on its progress will be provided. At the time of writing, the kiln with the test installation has already been up and running for three months without issue. Table 3. High temperature flexibility comparison. VIMAG SP 86 B

Magnesia Spinel Brick




E-Modulus (MPa)



D-Modulus (MPa)



The test temperature for all of the above was 1200˚C. The data from the castable is very similar from the data of the brick (Table 3). Based on the results of TSR in combination with the data of the E- and D-modulus, it is clear that VIMAG SP 86 B has similar flexibility in the microstructure as a common magnesia spinel brick. Heating up test A disadvantage of castable solutions is that sometimes they have to follow a special heating-up pattern. Therefore, the goal was to design a castable that can be heated up with the standard heat-up procedure of a rotary kiln. Accordingly, another REFKO in-house test procedure was developed. A block, including anchors, with dimensions of 500 mm x 500 mm and a thickness of 250 mm was cast (Figure 2). This block was then used as the door of the test furnace. The furnace was then heated up following a procedure obtained from a cement kiln operator. Once cooled, the block was January 2024 World Cement

Figure 2. A block of the castable solution was cast and then used as the door of the test furnace.

Figure 3. No cracks could be found in the cast block after the kiln heating up procedure. 29


Makoto Ohno, Shiho Takeuchi and Yasutaka Yoshimi, MINO CERAMIC CO., LTD., consider the role of refractory linings in rotary kilns when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. 30


he cement industry worldwide has been facing increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint due to its large contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The short-term measures include increasing the use of alternative fuels (AFs) and alternative raw materials (ARMs), improving thermal and electric energy efficiency, and reducing the clinker-to-cement ratio by blending with mineral substitutes. As a refractory manufacturer, Mino Ceramic believes it can help to reduce carbon emissions by providing refractories that can cope with harsh conditions and lower the shell temperature. In this article, the company’s latest progress on the development of a magnesia spinel brick coping with the increasing use of AFs and ARMs and an alkali resistant alumina-silica brick contributing to shell temperature reduction is presented.

High wear-resistant basic brick Post-mortem analysis of conventional magnesia spinel brick Figure 1 shows the appearance and cross section of a conventional magnesia spinel brick used for five months at L/D of 5.6 in a precalciner kiln. This precalciner kiln utilises various kinds of AFs and ARMs such as waste plastics, wood chips and sewage sludge and its AF substitution rate is approximately 40%. The photo on the left side of Figure 1 shows that one of two bricks was severely damaged from the hot face to over 100 mm depth while the other kept its original thickness. As this brick was used near a tyre section and was found to be damaged in the actual kiln, it would have been subject to mechanical stress. Table 1 shows the results of measured physical properties and XRD identification of the magnesia spinel brick divided into layers every 30 mm. Intense densification was observed at the third to fifth layer and a large amount of KCl and CaSO4 was identified at the third to fifth and the fourth to fifth layer, respectively. It was evident that the densification was caused by the deposit of KCl and CaSO4. The deposit at the deep part from the hot face can be explained by the following: CaO components, which were contained in the brick and/or came from the outside, reacted with infiltrated SOX to form CaSO4 and then the low temperature eutectic of KCl-CaSO4 was formed by the existence of KCl and it moved toward the shell side. This will have led to the microstructure deterioration near the hot face and lack of flexibility at the densification part (third to fifth layer in this case). Mino Ceramic believes the damage observed from the hot face to the fifth layer was caused by the microstructure deterioration by chemical attack, densification with infiltrated minerals and mechanical stress from the tyre. Similar damage has been observed in several kilns, in some cases shortening the life of the lining bricks, which led to the necessity of enhancing the process efficiency. Development of high wear resistant magnesia spinel brick The following characteristics are required for magnesia spinel bricks under chemical attack and mechanical stress. f Reinforced microstructure in the matrix with spinel (MgAl2O4) bonding – Controlling the amount of CaO and SiO2 is an important factor in terms of bonding formation. Adjusting it to the proper amount and ratio of CaO and SiO2 makes the bonding in the matrix primarily formed with spinel bonding, contributing to hot strength, volume stability after repeated heating, and resistance to sulfur, chlorine, and alkali. f Low permeability for foreign component – Optimising grain size distribution and firing conditions and using easily-sinterable raw materials makes the dense microstructure composed of smaller pores, contributing to low permeability. f High flexibility for mechanical stress – Adding some properly sized spinel materials and optimising grain size distribution makes it possible to have high flexibility while achieving high strength.





Based on the required characteristics and determined product concept, Mino Ceramic developed a magnesia spinel brick that can overcome harsh conditions. The properties of this brick are shown in Figure 2 as indexes, with the properties of a conventional magnesia spinel brick set at 100. Although the developed one has the same level of

Figure 1. Appearance and cross section of a conventional magnesia-spinel brick used for five months at L/D of 5.6 in a precalciner kiln.

Figure 2. Several quality characteristics of the developed magnesia-spinel brick as indexes with the properties of the conventional magnesia-spinel brick set at 100.

apparent porosity as the conventional one, it has lower permeability. Furthermore, it has lower volume change after repeated heating (700 – 1300˚C, 100 times) and high hot bending strength at 1200˚C due to its reinforced microstructure. An increase in the damage resistance parameter was also observed. Figure 3 shows the appearance and cross section of the developed magnesia spinel brick used for one year at L/D of 5.8 in the same precalciner kiln as Figure 1. The photo on the left side of Figure 3 shows that the hot face was almost flat and no significant damage was observed. In the cross section, although a tiny level of deterioration was observed near the hot face, no definite cracks were found throughout the brick. Table 2 shows the results of the measured physical properties and XRD identification of the magnesia spinel brick divided into layers every 30 mm. Identified infiltrated minerals are the same as shown in the conventional one (Table 1) but the amount and depth of infiltration was reduced in this sample even though it was used for one year (two campaigns). Figure 4 shows the apparent porosity of the developed one (Table 2) and the conventional one (Table 1). The result clearly shows that densification in the developed one was more reduced than in the conventional one. The developed magnesia spinel brick achieved a one year lifespan, demonstrating an absence of deep infiltration, severe densification and crack generation. The characteristics of reinforced microstrucure, low permeability and high flexibility in this brick can contribute to stable operations and process efficiency under harsh conditions due to increasing use of AFs and ARMs.

High alkali-resistant alumina silica brick with low thermal conductivity

High alumina bricks containing over 50% alumina content are commonly used in the safety/calcining zone in cement kilns. However, in terms of high alkali attack resistance and low thermal conductivity, aluminasilica bricks with lower alumina content would be preferable if they have sufficient erosion resistance and Figure 3. Appearance and cross section of the other required properties. Therefore, MINO CERAMIC developed magnesia-spinel brick used for one developed a high alkali resistant alumina-silica year at L/D of 5.8 in a precalciner kiln. brick with low thermal conductivity for the safety/calcining zone, even for the adjacent Table 1. Results of measured physical properties and XRD identification of the magnesia-spinel brick as shown in area to the upper transition zone. Table 3 shows Figure 1. the several quality characteristic values of the high alkali resistant alumina-silica brick with low 1 2 3 4 5 6 thermal conductivity (AS) in comparison with Distance from the 0 – 30 30 – 60 60 – 90 90 – 120 120 – 150 150 – 200 other alumina-silica bricks, which are measured hot face/mm by the company’s laboratory based on JIS. App. Porosity/% 13.0 10.4 5.3 3.1 6.3 15.5 In order to evaluate the CO2 reduction by 2.98 3.04 3.16 3.21 3.17 2.95 B.D./g/cm reduced shell temperature, the company calculated hypothetical radiation heat losses KCl x X XX XXX XX (–) Infiltrated and CO2 emission reductions if 30 m (linear) of Mineral bricks were installed in a 5.0 m ID kiln. Table 4 NaCl (–) – – X – shows the thermal calculation results of AS and CaSO – XX – other alumina-silica bricks on the conditions X-ray Intensity: Strong XXXXX > XXXX > …> X > x > - > (–) Weak described in the below part of Table 4. As can -3



World Cement January 2024

be seen, AS is much more energy-efficient than typical high alumina/fireclay bricks and slightly better than two-layer combined bricks. Compared to typical high alumina bricks, AS can save 1177 tpy of coal and reduce CO2 emissions by 2835 tpy. Figure 5 shows the cross sections of AS used for five months (left) and two years (right) at 9.2 (left) and 9.7 (right) of L/D in a precalciner kiln, in which magnesia spinel bricks were installed downward from 9.2 of L/D. This precalciner kiln utilises various kinds of AFs and ARMs such as waste plastics, waste tyres Figure 4. Apparent porosity of the developed and construction soil and its AF substitution rate is and conventional magnesia-spinel bricks used approximately 30%. In the five month sample, a large in the same area (Table 1 and 2). amount of lucite (K2O, Al2O3, 4SiO2), which was formed by the reaction of brick with Table 2. Results of measured physical properties and foreign alkali, was identified at the first layer XRD identification of the magnesia-spinel brick as and some alkali salts were identified up to shown in Figure 3. the fourth layer. Considering the infiltration 1 2 3 4 5 6 of foreign components was inhibited in the shell face side (fourth to sixth layer), Distance from hot 0 – 30 30 – 60 60 – 90 90 – 120 120 – 150 150 – 200 face/mm this result implies that the viscous liquid phase formed in operation prevented the App. Porosity/% 12.0 7.4 6.7 9.4 14.1 16.1 infiltration. 3.01 3.11 3.09 3.08 3.00 2.94 B.D./g/cm In the two-year sample, leucite was identified at the first layer and some alkali KCl x XX XX x – Infiltrated salts were identified up to the shell face mineral: side. Although some alkali salts infiltrated NaCl (–) (–) (–) – – toward the shell face side after two years CaSO (–) (–) of use, it was likely that the infiltration had X-ray Intensity: Strong XXXXX > XXXX > …> X > x > – > (–) Weak minimal impact the inside part of the brick. -3


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At the first layer in both samples, a large amount of leucite was identified, indicating a glassy protective layer was formed at the same time. In terms of erosion, no cement attack was confirmed in both samples, thus no excessive concern is likely to be needed.

Judging from the comparison of these bricks, AS would be mainly worn out by structural spalling (of about 20 mm thickness) from the hot face over time because leucite expands when it forms and the expansion coefficient is large. In many cement kilns, AS is gradually and stably worn by thin structural spalling and performs well for long periods. It is believed this is because the formed viscous glassy phase prevents the infiltration of foreign components and inhibits the crack generation at the deep position. Although AS has a lower alumina content, which may raise concerns about erosion by cement materials, Figure 5. Cross sections of AS used for five it has been installed from the adjacent area to UTZs months (left) and two years (right) at 9.2 (left) where magnesia spinel bricks have been installed and 9.7 (right) of L/D in a precalciner kiln. in dozens of cement kilns in Japan. They have seldom shown erosion, significant wear or Table 3. Quality characteristic values of AS and other any issues concerning the material itself. The alumina-silica bricks. characteristics of high alkali resistance and low Typical Two-layer combined thermal conductivity in AS can contribute to Typical Type AS High Fireclay the kiln operation with environmental impact Ref. Ins. Alumina reduction. Apparent porosity/%






Bulk density/g•cm






Cold crushing strength/MPa



































Chemical compositions/% Al2O3 SiO2 Thermal conductivity/W•m •K -1


Table 4. Thermal calculation results of AS and other alumina-silica bricks in case 30 m of bricks are installed respectively. Type

Brick thickness/mm



Typical High













Shell face temperature/˚C





Radiation heat loss/W m-2









85 478

116 784

102 701

86 515

Coal required for heat energy/tpy-1





Reduction of CO2 emission/tpy-1



30 m installed in 5.0 m ID kiln Radiation heat loss/kW 30 m installed in 5.0 m ID kiln One year (8000 hrs) operation

Conditions: Hot face temperature: 1200˚C, Ambient temperature: 20˚C, Wind speed: 0 m/s, Blackness: 0.85 Calorific value for coal: 26.6 MJ/kg, CO2 emissions for coal: 2.409 kg-CO2/ kg


With the increasing pressure to reduce CO2 emissions, the cement industry has been increasing the use of AFs and ARMs and working on improving the energy efficiency as short-term measures. Regarding this situation, MINO CERAMIC developed a durable magnesia spinel brick that features reinforced microstructure, low permeability and high flexibility in order to cope with the harsh conditions due to increasing use of AFs and ARMs. The developed brick has exhibited its features in the actual kiln, achieving a longer service life. For the safety/calcining zone, Mino Ceramic developed a high alkali resistant alumina-silica brick with low thermal conductivity. It prevents alkali infiltration and crack growth and is better in terms of CO2 emission reduction to common high alumina and fireclay bricks. The company therefore believes that these developed bricks can contribute to stable operations and process efficiency in cement plants.


Hot face temperature/˚C

Radiation heat loss/kW


1. Cement Handbook, ‘Use of wastes and byproducts’, Japan Cement Association, (2022). 2. OHNO, M., TODA H., TOKUNAGA, K., MIZUNO, Y., ‘Development of magnesia-spinel brick for transition zone in cement rotary kilns under the vastly increasing use of waste’, Proc. UNITECR, (2013), pp. 193–197. 3. TODA, H., FUJII, M., OHNO, M., OZEKI, F., ‘Effect of minor components on the properties of magnesia-spinel brick for cement rotary kilns’, Proc. UNITECR, (2019), pp. 238–241. 4. INABA, K., TOKUNAGA, K., MIZUNO, Y., TSUCHIYA, Y., KOZUKA, H., HONDA, T., ‘Development of calcining zone bricks for cement rotary kilns’, Taikabutsu, Vol. 53, No. 7 (2001), p. 418. World Cement January 2024

World Cement’s Refractory Review 2024

The World Cement Refractory Review provides a catalogue of some of the leading players in the refractory sector. This year’s edition includes contributions from: Bricking Solutions, HASLE Refractories, Krosaki Group, MINO CERAMIC CO., LTD., REFKO, & SILICON.


BRICKING SOLUTIONS Bricking Solutions offers a good combination of trustworthiness, experience, and dedication to provide the safest, most efficient, and highest quality refractory maintenance equipment in the world. For over 50 years, Bricking Solutions has concentrated on developing bricking machines and other related maintenance equipment so that customers will save time and money during a shutdown.

At present, there are more than 1500 Bricking Solutions products in use worldwide, meeting refractory maintenance needs every day. Bricking Solutions manufactures refractory maintenance products for cement, pulp and paper, lime, mining, agricultural, metal processing, and many more industries. The company designs and produces bricking machines, suspended platforms, kiln access ramps, safety inspections cages, personal protection tunnels, hydraulic conveyors, incline conveyors, port-a-tracs, radialign lasers, burner alignment devices, muck-it-buckets, material baskets, gantry cranes, bedding carts and installation tools.

Stair Stepped Bricking Machine.

HASLE REFRACTORIES HASLE Refractories specialises in manufacturing and supplying unique refractory solutions tailored for cement and other high-temperature industries worldwide. The product range covers durable castables characterised by their strength and resistance to both chemical attacks and abrasion. Complementing these, precast solutions and comprehensive engineering & supervision services are offered. HASLE Refractories upholds stringent quality standards through its ISO9001:2015 certification. HASLE Refractories’ solutions can help mitigate the challenges posed by increased alternative fuel usage (chemical attacks and undesirable build-ups), offering

HASLE Precast solutions have proven effective in critical areas of the cement clinker manufacturing process, addressing challenges related to short lining lifetimes, build-up, and jamming. 36

high resistance to alkalis, sulfates, and chlorides, thus extending the lifetime of refractory linings. Notably, our unique precast Modular Lining, a flexible refractory system for walls, roofs, and curves, aids plants in maintaining high operational efficiency, maximising capacity through thinner linings, and optimising energy use. Manufactured and pre-fired under strict controls at HASLE’s factory in Denmark, the precast elements exhibit high alkali resistance and have a smooth surface with low open porosity (9 – 10%), significantly reducing the risk of coating formation. The solution is installed in over 100 plants globally, where recent applications include lower stage feed pipes in a Northern European plant, cooler roofs, and bull noses in Asian plants, and inlet slopes in the smoke chamber of Indian plants. Integrating into this comprehensive refractory portfolio, HASLE Refractories is proud to launch the new generation of the world’s only Ceramic Vortex Finder (CVF), which is designed to improve operations in cyclones at elevated temperatures. Engineered to withstand harsh conditions, the CVF is made from a novel non-cement castable and is assembled on-site by interlocking ceramic elements. It provides a durable alternative to traditional steel dip tubes, capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1200˚C. World Cement January 2024


Ceramic Vortex Finder

The HASLE Ceramic Vortex Finder (CVF) is designed to improve operations in industrial cyclones at elevated temperatures and provides a long-lasting alternative to traditional steel dip tubes. It is assembled on-site by individual ceramic elements, which interlock to form a stable tube hanging from a steel ring welded to the roof casing of the cyclone. • Withstand temperatures up to 1200 °C / 2200 °F • No corrosion - Excellent resistance to chemical attacks • Does not buckle – dimensional stability • High abrasion resistance • Smooth surface - Minimal build-up and coating • Ceramic elements are Chromium-free • Easy and quick to install

Germany - cement plant, lowest cyclone Operating temperature: Up to ca. 950 °C. After 9 months. Lifetime achieved: 1 year (3 times longer compared to the steel dip tube previously used).

Germany - cement plant, 2 nd lowest cyclone Operating temperature: Up to 850 °C. After 2 years. Now approaching 3 years lifetime.

Spain - cement plant, middle stage cyclone Operating temperature: 700 °C. After 3 years. Now approaching 4 years lifetime.

KROSAKI GROUP Krosaki Group, through its two manufacturing plants of Krosaki AMR Refractarios and Krosaki Refractaria in Spain, supplies the most complete refractory material range of high-quality material products for the cement industry.

The ML range (left) is designed to offer enchanced refractory life. The ACRIS range (right) is ideal for solving ring formation problems, abrasion and chemical attacks.

Krosaki is an authority in refractory technology and innovation thanks to its modern facilities with the latest technologies and high-quality standards. Krosaki has a wide range of lining solutions for all types of rotatory cement kilns. In addition to offering a complete range for refractory products, from basic to alumina, from bricks to monolithic, Krosaki also has an engineering team working on special projects to optimise linings. Latest technology, top quality ML Range: The use of Synthetic Magnesite NEDMAG 99, an intensive pressing system, and a high temperature cooking process, gives these materials the best physical and chemical properties needed to obtain enhanced refractory lifetime. ACRIS Range: This range, characterised by the quality of the ACRIS 8510S (the only alumina-based brick able to resist the liquid phase in the burning zone and upper transition zone), is an ideal range to solve ring formation problems, abrasion and chemical attacks. The ACRIS range is one product line that helps to save energy in a kiln.

MINO CERAMIC CO., LTD Ever since its establishment in 1918, MINO CERAMIC Co., Ltd, based in Japan, has been providing high quality products and services for key industries dealing with high temperatures. The company has three major business areas: refractories, ceramic engineering and construction, and flooring and paving materials. The refractories section produces a wide variety of refractories ranging from fireclay, high alumina, alumina-chromia, basic to monolithic refractories that are mainly supplied to the cement, lime and waste treatment industries. The company’s refractories for the cement industry cover the entire area in the cement clinker firing process and have been provided to Japanese and overseas cement manufacturers for over 50 years.

Lineup of MINO CERAMIC’s products. 38

Rotary kilns MINO’s magnesia spinel bricks, represented by ECOS and MIC, are designed for applications in cement kilns that use large amounts of alternative fuels and alternative raw materials. The alumina silica brick, TAC, offers high alkali resistance and heat insulating properties. These products have proved their performance in many kilns and can contribute to longer service life of the linings especially for cement kilns using AFs and ARMs. Burner pipes MINO has developed a gel-bonded castable, NC-SB, for burner pipes. Using silica gel as solvent for mixing instead of water creates gel bonds, resulting in enhanced explosive resistance and thermal shock resistance. The product has achieved a one-year lifespan with good performance. Bull noses MINO’s free-flow castable, NF, utilises its fluidity and capabilities to form a dense construction body. The fluidity enables installation of intricate shapes such as bull noses. Despite the dense construction body, it shows good explosion resistance due to the addition of special raw materials. World Cement January 2024

Krosaki Group: Complete Refractory lining solutions for cement kilns and engineering solutions for energy saving. Krosaki AMR Refractarios S.A.u. Poligono Ibaiondo 31 20120 Hernani/Gipuzkoa/Spain T: +34943557500 E:

REFKO REFKO was founded in 1983 and, during this time, has established itself as an innovative, competitive and internationally recognised company in the refractories sector. REFKO is fully privately owned and based in Ransbach-Baumbach, Germany, yet operates on a global basis, with international business partners for production, sales and service. The REFKO product range covers all types of monolithic refractories as well as prefabricated refractory shapes.

The outstanding development of 2023 was the successful implementation of an MgO-Spinel gunning material for emergency repair of damage to the MgO-Spinel brick lining. In combination with the REFKO RECOVERY gunning system, cement plants can benefit from rapid response in emergency situations, bringing the kiln back online much faster than with standard repairs. Other notable highlights from REFKO’s range for the cement industry include the ZSI and ARS series for plants with high mechanical and chemical corrosion. These are available as LCC castable, LCC gunning (Supergun), ShotCasting (CastGun), as fast heat up Sol/Gel product (Vibrolit/Nano-G), and as pre-shaped product.

Left: The MgO-Spinel gunning material enables emergency repair of damage at the Mgo-Spinel brick lining. Right: Results of the REFKO RECOVERY gunning system.

Looking ahead The next highlight from REFKO will be a modern MgO-Spinel castable, VIMAG SP, which repairs larger areas of brick failures caused by deformed kiln shells.

SILICON SILICON is a one-stop shop for any potential refractory anchoring project, from engineering to production, and from project management to the final installation with the help of an on-site crew. SILICON aims to provide the technical and metallurgical expertise required to bring refractory anchors, and their installations to the next level. What we offer: f Tailored solutions for a business’ needs f Multilingual sales support f Expert engineering and project teams f Rapid production and worldwide delivery f On-site installation crews f Uncompromising quality control

SpeedCell – enhancing the lifespan of a burner pipe. 40

Upgrades for Holcim Schweiz AG Siggenthal Holcim required an upgrade in the cooler area, kiln inlet, and the gas upcoming chamber – all difficult areas with high temperatures and corrosion issues. The SILICON crew saved time with Rapid Arc Welding (RAW) technology, shortening the duration of the repair process. Due to the high quality and further benefits of SpeedBolt®, these units worked well without any short-term repair demands. This meant less downtime and more production during the year. Burner pipe problems at a German plant After experiencing persistent corrosion challenges afflicting its burner pipes attributed to the limitations of conventional V anchors, a German cement plant enlisted SILICON to solve the problem. The company strategically implemented the SpeedCells®, a high-performance alternative renowned for their holding power. The upgrade translated to a twofold increase in the burner pipe’s lifespan. This solution was achieved in a two-day timeframe, facilitated by the company’s Rapid Arc Welding technology and the streamlined mobilisation of machinery and equipment. World Cement January 2024


Unshaped monolithic materials

Fast heat up

Ceramic shock blower

Bull nose preshaped block system

Anchor concept: Seal anchor

Preshaped block System


Hilfestellung zur richtigen Verarbeitung unserer Produkte l Support for the correct handling of our products REFKO Feuerfest GmbH l Concordiastraße l D-56235 Ransbach-Baumbach Tel: +49 (0) 26 23 - 2075 l Fax: +49 (0) 26 23 - 1738 l E-Mail: l

Revamping cleaning in riser ducts


Connor Shelton, Dracyon, discusses the importance of using up-to-date air cannons to solve build-up issues in modern cement plants.


iser ducts have historically been subject to build-up. To combat this, most cement plants employ air cannons and high-pressure water washing. Many plant managers would report that their air cannons are operating well, however, it must be questioned, if they are working efficiently, why is there a need for high-pressure water washing? Sadly, the cement industry has accepted a very low standard for air cannon cleaning. It is time to demand more. Plant managers should expect air cannons to remove


build-up and drastically reduce manual cleaning. Only then should they report that their air cannon installation is operating well.

The need to eliminate high-pressure water washing

Figure 1. Typical air cannon installation.

Figure 2. Dracyon’s recommended installation.

Reducing high-pressure water washing is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a safety risk. Risks include burns, carpal tunnel, backs injuries, and even fatalities. Plants that employ regular high-pressure water washing compromise their employees’ safety in order to maintain good operations. Secondly, high-pressure water washing is expensive due to the cost of false air. Dracyon has been informed that the false air associated with a 1 in. diameter pipe produced an increased fuel cost of US$50/hr. An 8 by 8 in. inspection door, which often is opened for high-pressure water washing, allows 64 times more false air to enter into the tower. Based on the increased fuel cost of the 1 in. diameter pipe, the average access door would produce an added cost of US$3200/hr. Therefore, if a high-pressure water wash is used for four hours per day, the added cost is US$12 800/d. Based on a 300 day year of operation, this equals a cost of US$3 840 000/yr. And that is only a portion of the total cost saving. Other savings include: f Extended life of the refractory in the riser duct. f Elimination of combustion air swings. These are often caused by build-up and force high-pressure water washing. The ROI period for an air cannon system that eliminates high-pressure water washing is extremely quick. Not months or years, but, in many cases, a matter of days.

How to eliminate high-pressure water washing Figure 3. Straight fan jet (smart) nozzles – this system is well documented. 44

If high-pressure water washing is unsafe and inefficient, why has it not been eliminated by air cannons already? This is simply because most air cannons lack the required

World Cement January 2024

cleaning power. As they are unable to clean deep into the application, supplemental cleaning is consequently necessary. A standard air cannon installation in a riser duct will include the following features: f One air cannon per nozzle. f Each air cannon is 70 l (sometimes a 150 l tank is employed, but that is relatively rare). f Each air cannon is installed as close to the application as possible. f Each air cannon has a fan jet or a smart nozzle design. The guiding principle behind this strategy is that peak force is the most important factor for effective cleaning. A CFD study illustrating peak force from the different nozzles is shown in Figure 4. Decades of industry experience suggest the typical riser duct air cannon installation will never eliminate high-pressure water washing. The cement industry does not need more of the same type of air cannon. It needs a new air cannon with enough cleaning power and nozzles. The IGS Big Blue Air Cannon is specifically designed to meet the needs of today’s industry; several design features ensure it will have sufficient power to clean deeply into the application.

Firstly, it employs a larger reservoir tank as volume is key to better cleaning. The standard 70 l tank does not have enough cleaning power. Dracyon, therefore, typically recommends a 300 l reservoir tank, which has 4.3 times more cleaning energy than 70 l. Secondly, it employs a more effective cleaning cycle. The impulse time required to discharge 300 l of air is far greater than it is to discharge 70 l. The longer cleaning cycle per discharge enables the cleaning action to penetrate much deeper into the application. To understand this, a leaf blower is a good analogy. When using one, do you move the leaves with a momentary blast or with continuous blowing? The same principle applies here. Thirdly, it employs a more effective nozzle. One of the reasons air cannons do not penetrate deep into the application is the nozzle. The standard fan jet nozzle produces a wide, thin blast of air. This only cleans build-up within 3 ft of the air cannon and allows accumulation in the middle of the riser duct. In fact, it often piles build-up into the centre. The CFD modelling in Figure 3 shows the deficiency. There is, however, a better way. Third-party CFD testing indicates that increasing the nozzle

size from 4 in. to 6 in. produces four times more peak force and far better air flow. The result is a nozzle which is able to clean deep into the application, where most of the

build-up occurs. This is critical to eliminate high-pressure water washing. The entire wall must be cleaned. The design features are quite simple if the science is followed. More air is discharged for a longer duration through a larger nozzle. It makes perfect sense why that produces more effective cleaning. It is today’s air cannon which will solve today’s challenges.

Protecting the air cannons

Figure 4. Nozzle Design Comparison: Force vs. Distance.

The final step to eliminate high-pressure water washing is simple: protect your air cannons. The technology will only contribute if it is working properly. The best way to ensure the reliability of air cannons is to take the following steps: f Make sure the air cannon is accessible for regular maintenance. f Make sure the air cannon is protected from the harsh cement environment. When these two simple objectives are met, air cannons prove to be extremely reliable. It does not matter how good the technology is when it is not working. Dracyon employs years of experience to ensure each cannon is installed with long-term reliability in mind.

Summary Figure 5. Deeper penetration is crucial to eliminating high-pressure water washing.

Figure 6. Sometimes bigger is better. 46

The cement industry has accepted a low standard of air cannon cleaning for far too long. As a result, most riser ducts are replete with build-up and require regular high-pressure water washing. That is an unsafe and inefficient solution. The air cannon technology to significantly reduce or eliminate high-pressure water washing exists. The IGS Big Blue Air Cannon has more cleaning energy than the standard air cannon. It has a more effective cleaning cycle and it discharges through a more efficient nozzle. It is a simple concept but it will produce an immediate ROI. When that technology is protected through proven installation techniques, it will eliminate high-pressure water washing for the long term. The technology to eliminate common buildup problems is there. It is time to demand more of your air cannons! World Cement January 2024

Guillaume Dairin, STANDARD INDUSTRIE, emphasises the necessity of air cannons for the prevention of production stoppages.

Air cannons blast onto the scene


ver the years, many industries have replaced manual cleaning with the use of air cannons, including the AIRCHOC range from Standard Industrie. Manual cleaning (long rods poking, compressed air tools, air lances, high-pressure water spray etc.) requires qualified personnel and high levels of supervision which can involve a loss of production (it is necessary to shut down the process of production for some operations). This type of human intervention is both difficult and dangerous and can result in serious or even fatal accidents.


In addition to the efficiency of the AIRCHOC, there are several other advantages. For example:

A MACSYS installed on the tip of the cyclone.

AIRCHOC 6, blowpipe and nozzle for cooler.

AIRCHOC 6 on the kiln inlet at CIMALUX. 48

f It ensures the automatic and effective declogging of the structure without interrupting the production process. f It removes the risk of feeding restrictions, blockages and production downtime proportionally to the installed equipment. f Safety improvements. f It allows a fast return on investment. The AIRCHOC air cannon can be applied to various points in a process, whenever clogging or build-ups appear. Listed below are some examples of air cannon applications: f In the batch house where raw materials are mixed, AIRCHOC air cannons can be installed in bulk material silos. f Specific silos or hoppers containing cutlets can also be equipped with the AIRCHOC declogging devices in order to help material flow. f Other unexpected locations where systems such as AIRCHOC can be used are the smoke treatment plant and smoke evacuation, where treated gas can clog. An easy way to get rid of the soft build-ups is to blow air frequently. This regularly planned air blasting removes the dust and avoids formation of harder build-ups which could lead to total blockage. This is a smart, soft, easy and preventive solution against worst case scenarios. f In the furnace, they are found on the hopper, feed chute and furnace arches. In the cement process, the raw mill materials travel initially through the preheater (warmed by the raw cement) and precalciner (carbonate decomposition) before being sent into the kiln for the manufacturing of clinker. It is often at the level of the preheater tower (kiln inlet, smoke chamber, riser, cyclone, etc.) where the material clogging starts. In addition to the chemical composition of the flue gases, temperature changes add to the creation of concretions in the tower. Reduction of volume due to the accumulation of clogging alters the production process. The temperature around the tower area can reach 900˚C (1652˚F) and the maintenance interventions can last several hours. A manual isolator allows an operator to intervene at any time on the AIRCHOC, whether the plant is shut down or running. World Cement January 2024

When the system is in operation, its pneumatic version also prevents product from rising up into the AIRCHOC – even when the system is under pressure. The hatch position is naturally closed, opening is triggered by the shot and re-closing is instantaneous after firing. Thus, this clogging leads to a loss of productivity but also to an increased risk for the maintenance staff. In addition, if a concretion comes loose and blocks an area it will consequently cause a breakdown which could cost the plant several million dollars.

Case study: Luxembourg Problem Regarding a cement plant in Luxembourg, which was burning more and more alternative fuels, the build-ups at the kiln inlet were more numerous and the existing cleaning solution was no longer suitable. Moreover, the former air cannons were insufficient in number and their positioning did not allow for optimal cleaning efficiency. The customer therefore not only resorted to manual ringing but was also looking for a new partner for the supply of air cannons.

They wanted a turnkey project including air cannons, blow pipes and nozzles. Solution Standard Industrie’s technical team installed five AIRCHOC 6 air cannons and five refractory nozzles and blow pipes blocks on the kiln inlet. Results The new AIRCHOC 6 has two advantages: f More than 10% greater impact force than the previous version AIRCHOC 5, which proves indispensable in areas of heavy concretion and clogging (quantity and quality). Zoning is possible for different impact forces. f It also has the same impact force as AIRCHOC 5 at one bar lower operating pressure for energy and cost savings (depending on use and compressor capacity). The new AIRCHOC 6 requires fewer replacements of spare parts. Replacing the quick exhaust valve with a pilot valve offers many advantages, such as: f Significantly reduced maintenance. Valves are greased for life and cannot be replaced unless broken. f The air circuit to the exhaust is direct, which generates greater firing force.

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f Larger cross-sections for greater power.

A multi-mechanism air cannon

The MACSYS® is a specific type of air cannon which has several heads connected to the same tank. For this application, all 20 heads are equipped with anti-vibration compensating sleeves. Each sleeve is then connected to the smoke box by a network of tubes. At the end of each fixed tube termination are nozzles/deflectors, each with its own particularities depending on the cleaning job required. The objective is to easily reach the corners to improve cleaning by positioning five MACSYS on four different levels. The wireless solution has enabled significant savings on the cost of cables and cable trays.

Isolator, for the safe maintenance of air cannons.

Benefits of an isolator.

It takes an average of two minutes to fill the 200 l tank at 6 bar, which allows for short firing rates. The direct result is an improvement in the quality of the cement as well as the production rate. Following this installation and its efficiency, the customer also equipped the cooler. The MACSYS Wireless is driven by the same control panel which manages up to 128 AIRCHOC air cannons.

Case study: Spain Problem A client consulted the company to solve a problem of concretions in a rising shaft at the level of its preheating tower and a problem of clogging in a cyclone tip. Two solutions were presented to them: f The installation of a conventional AIRCHOC air cannon and a high temperature in positive safety version. f Or the installation of a MACSYS multi-mechanism air cannon. Solution The installation of five MACSYS DN150 (four on the rising duct and one on the tip of the cyclone) was the chosen option because it allowed the problems mentioned to be resolved at a lower cost. The MACSYS solution allows access to the areas to be treated by lengthening the nozzles, thus saving the addition of platforms or structures necessary for the maintenance of any industrial equipment. Other advantages include reduced maintenance costs due to the distance of the MACSYS from the heat points, and safe access for maintenance personnel to the routine control of the MACSYS.

The AIRCHOC isolation system allows a barrel to be isolated for safe maintenance.

It protects the air cannon during special operations in the silo (explosive, overpressure) and thus prevents an accumulation of product in the head or in the tank. These accumulations of dust are sources of failure or reduced performance. The system can be installed on a nozzle already in place between the nozzle flange and the AIRCHOC flange. A padlock is included (lockout possible) to isolate the entry from the tapping. The air cannon can then be safely dismantled from the isolator without the latter becoming detached from the connection. Advantages: • Protects the air cannons and maintenance operators. • Remains attached to the connection if the air cannon is dismantled. • Effortless use thanks to the large play and the low mass of the moving part. • Low thickness to maintain the performance of the air cannon. • Installation is possible vertically or horizontally. • Easy maintenance of the isolator: it is possible to remove the slide gate valve in case of jamming or clogging by the two plates at the ends. 50

Results The maintenance team of this plant was satisfied with the results, as the clogging problems were resolved. The MACSYS solution contributed to the smooth and efficient operation of the preheating tower, the heart of any cement plant equipment performance.

About the author

Guillaume Dairin has been the European Sales Manager at Standard Industrie for the past five years. He is regularly in contact with industrial customers in the field to understand their material flow issues. World Cement January 2024


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ementir Group has been taking further action to progressively reduce CO2 emissions, optimising existing technologies and laying the foundations for potential innovations that will lead to the production of ‘net zero emissions’ cement. The company’s ambition is to progressively reduce the intensity of CO2 emissions until carbon neutrality is reached by 2050. “On this challenging path, together with other key actions like new production technologies, industrial operations and fuel and energy mix, reducing clinker ratio of cement portfolio represents one of the most relevant and valuable drivers to pursue. In our strategic view to progressively decarbonise the product portfolio towards low-carbon cements, FUTURECEM® is a steppingstone in achieving our sustainability targets”, states Chief Sales, Marketing & Commercial Development Officer at Cementir Holding, Michele Di Marino.


FUTURECEM is the result of extensive applied research, which has been conducted over recent years at the Cementir Group Research and Quality Centre located in Aalborg. It covers the entire value chain: from raw material assessment, manufacturing technology, up to concrete technology.


, mpaletta a Z o n a f e rino & St r Mathiasen, a M i D t Michele & Caspe w cemen p e u n o f r o G le ir Cement re the ro leading the lo p x e , S / Unicon A te formulations in t zero future. re ne and conc ustry towards a d cement in

Looking to the future of cement


The technology is a limestone and calcined clay system that allows high clinker replacement in cement. Leveraging the synergies of the material combination, this technology results in a more sustainable and higher performing cement with up to 30% lower carbon footprint compared to ordinary Portland cement. The low carbon benefits are also achieved while preserving strength and quality. The technology is fully recognised as a solution for clinker ratio reduction in the roadmap for ‘Low-Carbon Transition in the Cement Industry’ by the International Energy Agency, and as ‘low clinker cements’ in ‘Cementing the European Green Deal.’1, 2 It is also formally recognised in the EU standard EN 197-5 for even further clinker substitution with II/C-M cements (up to 50%). A milestone in the development of the technology was the Danish ‘Green Concrete II’ (Green Transformation of Cement and Concrete Production) project, which concluded in 2019. This project actively involved the entire value chain of construction and building materials, as well as universities and research institutes. Cements and concrete recipes based on FUTURECEM were developed and tested in

full-scale constructions: infrastructure elements (two bridges) and an indoor floor and wall in the new concrete laboratory at the Danish Technological Institute.

Market roll-out

Since January 2021, FUTURECEM has been available on the market in Denmark. It has been primarily targeted at use in the ready mix concrete (RMC) segment. Customers within this segment use the special properties of FUTURECEM to make concrete more stable against variations in consistency and easier to pump, which is usually a challenge with the rather cement-poor concrete used in Denmark. Along with RMC, several Danish concrete precast producers are implementing FUTURECEM in their production through a complete testing programme on site. The main difference perceived is the light-brown colour of the concrete, which is considered as a seal of quality and visible proof for builders to demonstrate the sustainable nature of their building. FUTURECEM has been used in RMC and concrete elements for the ambitious sustainable building UN17 Village in Ørestad, Copenhagen with more than 500 apartments. When completed in 2024, it will be known as the world’s first housing project integrating all 17 UN Global Goals in the same building. Following the launch in Denmark, the roll-out is accelerating in the Cementir Group’s European market. CCB, the Cementir Group subsidiary in Belgium, commercialised FUTURECEM in France in 2022, with the target for the Benelux in 2023. The scheduling is also linked to the need to address the complexity of different markets, habits and regulations, which could slow down and, sometimes, limit the opportunities of innovative low carbon cements, with the need of additional local certifications. In collaboration with customers, FUTURECEM has been tested and used in a wide range of applications from RMC to precast elements and mortars. It is also included in the research project ‘Blocs B40 for low carbon concrete’ led by CERIB. FUTURECEM is a significant step on the way towards more sustainable cement production. This is important not only for Cementir Group, but also for the low-carbon transition of the concrete and construction industries in Futurecem was used in the Building of the UN17 Village in general. Ørestad. 54

World Cement January 2024

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Case study: Unicon

Denmark’s largest producer and supplier of RMC, Unicon, which is part of Aalborg Portland Holding, a Danish subsidiary of Cementir Holding group, introduced FUTURECEM-based concretes to the Danish market in 2020. This was based on a collaborative development process with Aalborg Portland, but also the Danish Technological Institute, DTU Construct and others in the research and development project Green Concrete II, which ran from 2014 to 2019. The final practical issues were tested and refined at Unicon’s Danish laboratories and plants before the company could send the first concrete trucks out on the roads in Denmark with carbon reduced concrete under the name of UNI-Green in the drums. Unicon was the first producer of RMC in Denmark to present a complete standard range of carbon reduced concretes when UNI-Green was further rolled out in early 2021. The UNI-Green concrete types from Unicon have up to 25% lower carbon footprint compared to the Danish industry average. “It is not often that we make such big changes to our concrete, which only made it even bigger to have to present a new concrete with such a significant carbon reduction, which FUTURECEM contribute to. It also made it a particularly exciting task for our technical department to adopt a new cement type that today already makes a big difference for our entire industry”, says Casper Mathiasen, Managing Director of Unicon. With the carbon reduction of 25%, the FUTURECEM-based UNI-Green concrete is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the market for RMC in both Denmark and the rest of the world. Unicon is known for supplying concrete for demanding and complex projects that require quality and high-strength concretes. The same high strength is also achieved in Unicon’s

Futurecem was also used on this railway bridge in Denmark. 56

carbon reduced concretes despite the relatively lower clinker content in the cement, which is replaced by calcined clay and limestone filler. By using FUTURECEM, Unicon can therefore produce carbon reduced concrete with a similar compressive strength, and the price is the same as the conventional concretes in the product range. “It is crucial for us that we always live up to customer expectations and deliver the high quality that we are known for in the Danish construction industry. By embedding FUTURECEM in our concrete mixes, we can deliver concrete that is both easy to work with and has high quality. There are just a few processes that are slightly different, but basically the product is the same and with a significantly lower carbon footprint and impact on the climate. It is therefore a unique product we can offer our customers”, adds Casper Mathiasen. The new reduced carbon concretes drew significant interest in connection with the launch of the UNI-Green standard range in 2021. Despite the industry being known for its caution around new products, especially with concrete, contractors and developers over time realised that the carbon reduced concrete has the same good properties as traditional concrete types. Therefore, Unicon restructured its production in 2022 so that all concrete types in the environmental impact categories of Passive and Moderate are now produced as UNI-Green, replacing the traditional Rapid cement with FUTURECEM. Unicon produces more than 1 million m3 of concrete annually from its 33 plants throughout Denmark. Today the carbon reduced concrete based on FUTURECEM accounts for approximately 40% of all the concrete that Unicon delivers from its plants.

Looking ahead

However, the development of concretes with a lower environmental impact does not stop at the implementation of FUTURECEM at Unicon. Cementir’s Danish laboratory is continuously trying to push the boundaries of more climate-friendly concrete types. Among other things, this has led to the development of an ‘ultra-low carbon concrete’, which is based exclusively on aggregates from crushed recycled concrete, collected rainwater and process water, fly ash and FUTURECEM. The new ultra-low carbon concrete has a carbon footprint of 80 kg/m3, while a comparable conventional concrete has a footprint of 170 kg/m3 of concrete. The potential of the new ultra-low carbon concrete and its applications are manifold, but World Cement January 2024

is for the time being limited to projects outside the Danish standards due to longer curing times. Despite this, the project underlines that the potential of using technologies such as FUTURECEM is significant, and the carbon reduced cement can thus, in combination with several different initiatives, ensure even greater reductions in construction.

Casper Mathiasen currently working as the Managing Director at Unicon A/S, and Kudsk & Dahl A/S. Over the last 10 years, Casper has undertaken various roles within Cementir Nordic & Baltic region, working within cement, ready-mix concrete, and aggregates. Casper has been involved in the rollout of FUTURECEM, from the first project with References FUTURECEM to the full-scale rollout. As of today, 1. ‘Technology Roadmap - Low-Carbon Transition in the FUTURECEM has become the standard in most Cement Industry’ – A/S recipes. roadmap-low-carbon-transition-in-the-cement-industry Casper also serves as the Chairman of the 2. ‘Cementing the European Green Deal’ – https:// Danish Concrete Association and as a member the ERMCO board (European Ready-mix 12-8_WorldCement_InsertV1.pdf 1 12/5/23 11:12 AM roadmap_final-version_web.pdf Concrete Organization).

About the authors

Michele Di Marino is Chief Sales, Marketing & Commercial Development Officer, Cementir Holding. He joined Cementir Holding in 2010, working in Copenhagen, Denmark. As the Commercial and Business Development Director, consolidating the leadership position White Cement in Europe and working on several growth and strategic projects. In 2017 he relocated to Rome and took on the role of Group Chief Sales, Marketing & Commercial Development Officer, leading global commercial strategy. He is pursuing the Sustainability & Innovation agenda. C

Stefano Zampaletta is currently working for Cementir Holding as Group Product Development Manager. He is in charge of defining and Coordinating the Group sustainability roadmap for a lower carbon product range and its roll-out at the Group and local level to support Group’s CO2 emission reduction targets. As part of his role in this project, his focus is FUTURECEM as Group Initiative: a green and sustainable solution for cement and concrete technology. He is also coordinating innovation activity on cement-based solution and products within InWhite Solutions®. During his 20 years of experience in cement and concrete industry, he has covered different positions in technical assistance, quality control and R&D. M








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Making a true net-zero cement Dr Leah Ellis, Sublime Systems, explains how electrochemistry and non-carbonate feedstocks can be used to shrink cement’s carbon footprint.


here is no better material for building durable infrastructure that can withstand time and increasingly extreme weather conditions than cement. At the same time, cement production today is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Decarbonising the industry is critical to fighting climate change – a fact recognised by most of the world’s major cement and concrete producers, many of whom have committed to going net zero by 2050. Other companies have emerged to accelerate cement decarbonisation, including Sublime Systems, which is advancing a manufacturing process to make cement that avoids emissions entirely. Existing cement producers are moving faster than ever before to decarbonise with the tools

available to them. This includes displacing ordinary portland cement (OPC) content with blended portland limestone cements and supplementary cementitious materials like fly ash, steel slag, and calcined clay. Some OPC plants have added carbon capture and storage infrastructure to address point-of-combustion emissions. These near-term adjustments buy time to develop and scale new methods that can further reduce emissions in an enduring way.

Electrified production

Sublime Systems is rethinking how to make cement for the post-carbon future. The company is advancing a fully electrified manufacturing approach that reduces both major sources of


cement emissions today: limestone feedstock and fossil-fuel-fired kilns. It was founded by battery scientists who understood that increasingly abundant, cheap, and reliable renewable energy could be used to transform high-emission industries. They worked to apply their toolkit of electrochemistry to create a decarbonised cement that reacts with water to ultimately form the same hardened concrete the construction industry relies on today. Sublime is advancing a product that at mature scale can reduce more than 90% of cement manufacturing’s emissions without costing more than OPC does today. This impact was validated by a cradle-to-gate screening life cycle assessment (LCA) performed by Climate Earth, the leading provider of environmental product declarations (EPDs) to the concrete industry. Sublime’s process starts with raw material feedstocks that – unlike limestone – do not release CO2 when transformed into cement. An electrolyser is then used, running entirely on electricity (ideally renewable electricity) at room temperature to kick off the chemical reactions needed to break down inert minerals into the reactive components of cement.

This electrolyser is similar to a water splitting electrolyser. One electrode produces an acidic solution that extracts calcium from inert minerals, leaving behind a reactive silicate. The second electrode produces alkalinity, which precipitates calcium (also known as lime) as a pure, reactive solid. Reactive calcium and silicates are blended in a low-temperature process to make the final product – Sublime Cement. This is similar to how the Romans made cement, by first extracting lime from limestone (albeit with heat) and mixing that with volcanic ash (reactive silicates) to kick off the pozzolanic reaction that gave their final concrete structures the strength and durability they are famous for. Sublime is developing its cement with modern additives to facilitate early strength development in concrete and ensure ease of use in construction projects.

Skipping the kiln

In its effort to decarbonise cement production, Sublime first explored pairing its electrochemical method of extracting lime with a kiln to produce a final OPC. This requires a crystal structure (alite) that currently is only achievable through a combustion process that surpasses 1250˚C. The widely used standard specification for portland cement, ASTM C150, assumes a cement has this specific structure. As temperatures this high can only be achieved efficiently by burning fossil fuels, the company felt it would be unlikely to achieve true-zero emissions with OPC and a kiln-based approach. Rather than adhering to a recipe, it felt it was important to design a maximally decarbonised solution and partner carefully with the industry for its adoption.

Sublime Systems’ pilot facility in Somerville, MA, USA.

Sublime Cement is a drop-in replacement for OPC in concrete. 60


As Sublime developed its technology, the founders left the academic lab and talked to ready-mix concrete producers, concrete contractors, and structural engineers. They found they talked less about the chemical phases that were formed in OPC production and more about how cement performed in concrete: its strength, slump, durability, and set time. They decided to forgo the kiln for a fully electrified approach and have worked to bring Sublime Cement to market by meeting the requirements World Cement January 2024

of ASTM C1157, the standard performance specification for hydraulic cement. This standard is incorporated into the International Building Code and International Residential Code and does not dictate a specific composition for a cement but instead specific criteria for performance and durability characteristics. In third-party tests, Sublime Cement exceeded all ASTM C1157 General Use performance requirements and outperformed many samples of OPC in ultimate strength and durability parameters. A decarbonised cement can be a high-performing cement, and fully performance-based specifications allow innovators to solve the right problems with a vast toolkit beyond the kiln.

Cost parity

A process including a kiln could have achieved net-zero emissions through carbon capture, but the founders were aware that this would add to the capital and operating expenses of production, yielding a much more expensive final cement. This premium would be very difficult for most end customers to swallow, limiting Sublime Cement’s ability to scale and achieve its mission of having a swift and massive impact on emissions by displacing today’s high-emitting cement. At scale, Sublime Cement will cost the same as today’s cement because it has a similar energy requirement and does not require capital and

operating expenses to clean up emissions – it simply avoids them.

Feedstock freedom

By forgoing the kiln and the chemical reactions limited to it, this fully electrified process can also tap into a wide range of raw materials to make cement. Traditional cement production that heats limestone (calcium carbonate) in a kiln yields lime (calcium oxide) and CO2 emissions. Kilns cannot use alternative sources of calcium, such as calcium silicate, because those feedstocks do not break down thermally. In the kiln, there is no phase separation that results in isolated reactive calcium when using these alternative feedstocks – it just results in a hotter calcium silicate. As long as it can achieve the right ratio of calcium and silicates, Sublime’s electrified process can work with an abundance of feedstocks, from naturally occurring minerals to a wide variety of industrial wastes. This includes spent concrete or demolition debris, meaning an old, demolished building can be turned into fresh cement, further enhancing the sustainability of the process.

Reduced pollution

By not firing a large industrial kiln powered by coal or gas to reach temperatures of 1400˚C, as OPC production does, Sublime Cement production does not release other pollutants into the air,

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including NOX, SOX, mercury, kiln dust, and other combustion-derived particulate matter (PM). These fossil fuel pollutants are harmful to the communities adjacent to large industries and is something Sublime chose to bypass, as fossil-fuel pollution is collectively responsible for one in five premature deaths worldwide, according to recent public health research. Sublime’s recently announced screening LCA validated that its megaton-scale production process can reduce 90% of the global warming potential of cement manufacturing with the same water demands. It also saw drastically lower acidification and eutrophication values, reflecting an overall cleaner footprint.

Working with the industry

A product like Sublime Cement, however decarbonised and environmentally friendly, will never go anywhere if it is not easy for the entire construction ecosystem to adopt. The company was founded to have a swift and massive scale in reducing CO2 emissions, therefore, designing its core product to hit market with minimal friction was critical. Meeting C1157 compliance is an important step in that path, but there is much more work to be done to gain the construction industry’s confidence in swapping high-emitting OPC with Sublime Cement. The company is collaborating closely with ready-mix concrete producers

Sublime’s pilot plant has a 250 tpy capacity.

throughout the US to test its low-carbon cement in concrete mixes, identify and mitigate the differences in placement and finishing, and fully educate concrete contractors, engineers, architects, and builders to have confidence in using Sublime Cement as a drop-in replacement for OPC in concrete. A low-carbon cement that cannot be deployed easily will not be readily adopted and will not scale to have the decarbonisation impact needed for this industry. The global industry’s decarbonisation efforts through the adoption of various blended portland limestone cements is admirable but has been met with some resistance in the US. Concrete contractors felt there were differences in the placement and finishing of the material that they did not anticipate. Sublime has been well versed in these challenges by its industry advisors and is working to diligently test its materials across conditions and use cases to provide the appropriate guidance for its partners in deployment. The construction industry is rightfully cautious with regard to new materials and approaches, as it is responsible for safely building infrastructure that houses and transports the entire world. By working closely with the construction industry around validation and implementing a staged approach to project testing, Sublime Systems is working to gain the needed confidence on its material as a replacement for the portland cement the world has used for over 150 years. Today Sublime manufactures out of its pilot site with a production capacity of 250 tpy and is building its first commercial facility to produce up to 30 000 tpy. That site will be commissioned as soon as 2026 and provide product to customers while de-risking Sublime’s technology to ultimately scale to a 1 million tpy site in 2028. Once its production and technology has been validated in this fully integrated way, Sublime envisions partnering across the industry to provide its production technology to an array of cement industry majors, pairing its expertise in innovation and material science with incumbents’ strength in scale, logistics, and manufacturing.

About the author

Sublime Cement meets ASTM C1157, the standard performance specification for hydraulic cement. 62

Leah Ellis is the CEO and co-founder of Sublime Systems, a company advancing a breakthrough process to produce low-carbon cement. Leah and her co-founder, Yet-Ming Chiang, developed the technology while she was an NSERC/Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Leah earned a PhD in Prof. Jeff Dahn’s lab at Dalhousie University, where she optimised lithium-ion battery chemistry in partnership with 3M and Tesla. World Cement January 2024

Seeking decarbonisation solutions

Compact Membrane Systems explores a membrane-based carbon separation solution for cement decarbonisation, set to be piloted in the field in early 2024.


ement and aggregate material production generates 7% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and manufacturers face growing pressure to decarbonise.1 Governments worldwide are gearing up to set emissions standards, tax carbon emissions related

to cement production, or use their purchasing power to drive the market for lower carbon materials. In the US, the Biden Administration announced that it is investing US$2 billion towards 150 US federal building projects that used low-carbon materials last November. These projects will prioritise the use of materials that are produced with lower levels of GHG emissions, growing the market for low-carbon steel, cement, and asphalt. Analysis by McKinsey & Company suggests that in the short term, supply of low-carbon


cement will not keep up with demand and will enable producers of low-carbon cement to charge a premium, especially in Europe.2

Current challenges with cement decarbonisation

Despite growing demand for low-carbon cement, the cement industry faces significant challenges with decarbonisation because the chemistry involved in the production of Portland Cement inherently produces carbon dioxide as waste. Although new entrants to the market have begun to offer alternative cement formulations and production pathways that emit less CO2, the capital expenditure required makes adopting these cost-prohibitive for most existing facilities. Producing low-carbon cement without redesigning production facilities by capturing the CO2 is an economic and near-term alternative pathway. Current carbon capture solutions such as amines and other solvent technologies have been utilised at large scale in chemical plants but have not been widely adopted in the cement industry. These incumbent technologies are saddled with a number of other challenges that hamper their use in cement, including solvent degradation and spent solvent handling, large demand for steam-based solvent regeneration, risk of groundwater contamination, and high energy and capex requirements for deployment at scale.

A low-cost, energy-efficient decarbonisation pathway

Advanced membrane technologies hold the key to making CO2 emissions manageable at large and small scale, through modular, low-pressure, and low-cost separation that does not have accessory chemical emissions, regeneration requirements, or steam demand. Instead of completely redesigning production facilities, cement producers can reduce emissions by capturing CO2 with a practical, bolt-on membrane solution that easily integrates with existing processes.

Compact Membrane Systems (CMS), a Delaware-based company with over 30 years in bringing membrane technologies from the lab to the field, is pioneering membrane systems for decarbonising heavy industry. CMS’s Optiperm™ Carbon technology offers a low-risk, cost-efficient pathway for carbon capture that is better suited to the cement industry than incumbent capture technologies. The modular unit design for existing plants makes it safer, smaller, and less expensive than alternatives such as amines, and the low energy needs make it practical for smaller, distributed cement production facilities with limited utilities on site. The Optiperm platform technology has been tested extensively within realistic operating parameters and at third-party facilities while being demonstrated at commercial pilot scale for industrial petrochemical separations in harsh environments. Throughout this ongoing test campaign, CMS’s solution has demonstrated high performance, low footprint, resistance to poisons, and ability to operate at low pressures, making it well suited for point-source post-combustion carbon capture applications in several sectors including steel, cement, and chemicals. CMS is in a preferred position to commercialise its Optiperm facilitated transport membrane technology and enable customers to unlock practical, near-term carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Lab testing figures

The Optiperm Carbon membrane technology has undergone extensive lab testing and modelling to validate the performance of the technology for cement decarbonisation. CMS engineers conducted testing and modelling based on real operating conditions with real flue gas composites with all the poisons present in gas streams from cement production. The testing scenario considered a 16% CO2 concentration in flue gas flowing at 100 000 scfm. The multi-stage CMS system was first optimised for minimal cost of capture to achieve 90% CO2 purity and recovery.

Figure 1. CMS Carbon Capture System generates 90% CO2 purity at US$86/t for 16% purity feed streams. 64

World Cement January 2024

At 90% CO2 purity, the modelling showed a US$86/t cost of capture. The numbers in Figure 1 show the optimised separation with US$60/MWh electricity. CMS can size and design optimal membrane systems for a variety of applications based on each application’s specific conditions and on the third-party verified Optiperm performance data. The intrinsic flexibility and modularity of membranes enable CMS to develop systems taking into account customer specific needs and constraints, such as limitations in spare utility capacity, utility prices, physical footprint availability or flue gas stream conditions (pressure, temperature, composition, etc.). As shown in Figure 1, used case evaluations include comprehensive CAPEX, OPEX, and utility usage, as well as membrane sizing and sensitivity analysis. Higher purities can be achieved with membranes operating in concert with cryogenic distillation systems.

A pilot partnership in 2024

In July 2023, RHI Magnesita, one of the world’s leading producers of refractory materials, announced a partnership with CMS to launch a new carbon capture pilot project. RHI Magnesita is set to integrate CMS’s Optiperm Carbon membrane technology into a field rig specifically engineered to capture process waste gases from one of its furnaces. The commissioning of the pilot plant is slated for early Q1 of 2024, and will take place at one of RHI Magnesita’s facilities in Austria. The primary objective of this pilot initiative is to validate the technology’s efficacy in an authentic industrial setting and to lay the groundwork for subsequent phases, including larger-scale demonstrations. Andreas Drescher, RHI Magnesita’s specialist in sustainable technology and decarbonisation states: “Collaboration between leading industrial companies and start-ups is crucial to achieve the sustainable progress we are striving for at RHI Magnesita. As a leading manufacturer of refractories, we see it as our responsibility to significantly drive sustainability. Reducing CO2 emissions is therefore one of our top priorities.” CMS became acquainted with RHI Magnesita during its involvement in the Verbund X accelerator programme in 2022. This programme is designed to facilitate collaboration between established industry leaders and start-ups. Reflecting on the experience, Erica Nemser, CEO of CMS expressed, “The Verbund X accelerator has been a tremendous experience and was an excellent way to meet industrial players who are taking practical steps for near-term decarbonisation.”


1. ‘Cementing your lead: The cement industry in the net-zero transition’, engineering-construction-and-building-materials/our-insights/ cementing-your-lead-the-cement-industry-in-the-net-zerotransition 2. Ibid.

THE GREEN PERKS OF PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE Can you tell us about yourself and your role at Nanoprecise?

I am Chief Technology Officer of Nanoprecise Sci Corp. My role primarily involves overseeing the technical aspects of our company’s operations, including the development and implementation of our AI-based predictive maintenance solutions. I’m passionate about harnessing the power of technology, particularly AI and IIoT, to transform the way industries manage their assets and achieve sustainability goals. At Nanoprecise, we focus on providing cutting-edge solutions that empower businesses to monitor and maintain their industrial equipment efficiently and sustainably.

What previous work experience do you bring to the team?

I bring a wealth of experience to the team as an experienced business leader with a strong track record in both initiating and scaling up ventures. My career has spanned various technology domains, where I’ve taken the helm in leading businesses, while building and managing teams dedicated to product development, technology, and operations.


Manpreet Singh, CTO at Nanoprecise Sci Corp, answers questions about predictive maintenance solutions and how they can contribute to sustainability.


I have a profound interest in technology, driving my passion for innovation. In addition to my technical expertise, I’ve also cultivated strong leadership and project management skills, which have proven essential in overseeing complex projects and driving them to successful completion. Overall, my previous work experience equips me with a deep understanding of the industry’s needs and challenges, which I’m excited to leverage in my role as CTO at Nanoprecise to continue driving innovation and sustainability in predictive maintenance solutions.

Can you explain the significance of the recently launched Light Energy Harvesting Hardware in the context of predictive maintenance, and how it is different to other solutions?

The launch of the MachineDoctorTM LUX sensor, is a significant milestone for Nanoprecise and the field of predictive maintenance. This is true for several reasons. Firstly, the sensor is designed to harness energy from ambient light sources, making it highly energy-efficient. This eliminates the need for traditional battery replacements, reducing operational costs, and minimising environmental impact. It aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency in industries. Its self-sustaining capabilities allow uninterrupted data collection without relying on disposable batteries, making it an environmentally responsible choice. Moreover, by combining light energy harvesting with a long-life lithium-ion battery, this sensor enables continuous data collection even in low-light conditions. This reliability is crucial for maintaining uninterrupted monitoring of industrial assets. In addition, we are pursuing Zone 0 compliance, which will make it suitable for use even in hazardous/explosive atmospheres. This sets it apart as a solution capable of operating in dangerous environments, thereby ensuring safe operations. It also comes with cellular connectivity via e-SIM which, when combined with its non-intrusive installation process, makes it versatile and suitable for various applications. It can be integrated into both indoor and outdoor industrial environments. This state-of-the-art wireless sensor is a testament to our dedication to innovation and sustainability.

How does the sensor harness ambient light sources to power itself, and what benefits does this bring to industrial monitoring and maintenance? The sensor is equipped with self-contained solar panels that capture and convert ambient light, including both natural and artificial 68

sources, into electrical energy. These solar panels are strategically placed on the sensor to maximise light absorption. The captured light energy is converted into electrical power, which is then stored in a lithium-ion battery. This combination of light energy harvesting and battery storage ensures that the sensor has a continuous and reliable source of power. Thanks to this dual power system, the sensor is self-sustaining. It can operate without the need for frequent battery replacements or external power sources. This not only reduces operational costs but also minimises disruption due to maintenance activities, which is particularly advantageous for large-scale industrial operations. Harnessing ambient light sources reduces the environmental impact associated with battery production, disposal, and the associated carbon footprint. Its ability to function in low-light conditions ensures that it remains reliable regardless of the surroundings enabling it to be deployed in both indoor and outdoor environments. Its ability to harness ambient light for power not only makes it cost-effective and environmentally responsible but also allows uninterrupted data collection for predictive maintenance. It represents a significant leap forward in the field of industrial monitoring and maintenance technology.

How does the use of the new technology align with your commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturing plants? How does it contribute to optimising energy consumption in industrial facilities?

MachineDoctor LUX monitors six critical parameters of industrial assets such as acoustic emissions, vibration, temperature, humidity, RPM and magnetic flux in real-time, which enables manufacturers to promptly identify inefficiencies and faults in their machinery. This, in turn, helps in minimising energy waste associated with equipment defects or suboptimal operations. Moreover, this technology is designed to harness ambient light sources, eliminating the need for conventional battery-powered sensors. This not only reduces the environmental impact associated with the production and disposal of batteries but also ensures continuous data collection, even in low-light conditions, without energy-intensive replacements. MachineDoctor LUX is part of a holistic approach that focuses on energy centred maintenance. It enables manufacturers and operators to place energy consumption and efficiency at the forefront of maintenance World Cement January 2024

strategies, thereby enhancing operational efficiency, reducing energy costs, and minimising environmental impact, to deliver sustainable value.

What are some common challenges that industries face when adopting predictive maintenance solutions, and how does Nanoprecise help them overcome these hurdles?

Adopting predictive maintenance solutions can be transformative, but it is not without its challenges. We at Nanoprecise simplify this process with the help of our wireless IoT sensor and a user-friendly dashboard. Being a cellular sensor, it does not need any networking devices and can communicate with our cloud platform. Integrating predictive maintenance systems into existing infrastructure can be complex and disruptive. It often involves connecting various industrial systems and sensors. The dashboard easily integrates with various industrial systems, ensuring a smooth transition without major disruptions. Workforce upskilling is another common challenge, as employees may need training to effectively utilise predictive maintenance tools. Nanoprecise recognises this and provides training and support to help the workforce adapt to the new technology, ensuring they can make the most of the predictive maintenance system. A lot of clients want to get a good return on investment (ROI) for predictive maintenance solutions. Our clients are able to realise significant ROI because of a reduction in unplanned downtime and our energy analytics also allow our client to take timely action to reduce their electricity footprint. This tangible improvement in operational efficiency helps our customers see the value of our solutions.

What do you envision for the future of predictive maintenance and energy efficiency monitoring?

The future of predictive maintenance and energy efficiency monitoring holds immense promise. We envision a landscape where these technologies are not just tools but integral components of industrial operations. At Nanoprecise, we are determined to be at the forefront of this transformative journey. In the coming era, real-time insights will become the norm. Nanoprecise aims to lead this shift by delivering immediate actionable insights to our customers, enabling them to promptly make well-informed decisions. As we advance into the realm of more sophisticated AI and machine learning algorithms, Nanoprecise is committed to continuous research and development to stay ahead of the curve. 70

Our AI capabilities will continually refine, offering increasingly precise predictions and prescriptions for optimised asset maintenance. Furthermore, we recognise the growing importance of edge computing. We’re investing in bringing more intelligence to the edge. This means AI on the edge will be able to detect anomalies and faults, triggering notifications as well. By enhancing edge intelligence, we aim to provide even quicker responses to critical situations, ensuring minimal disruptions and improved reliability. Our vision extends to democratising these technologies, making them accessible to every plant with rotary equipment including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We are actively working on user-friendly solutions that cater to a wide range of industries, making predictive maintenance and energy efficiency monitoring attainable for all. As the world moves towards sustainability, energy efficiency monitoring will play a pivotal role. Nanoprecise will continue to develop solutions that enable industries to reduce their carbon footprint by optimising energy consumption.

How does predictive maintenance contribute to sustainability goals?

Predictive maintenance is our sustainability ally. It ensures efficient resource utilisation, saving energy, reducing downtime, and extending machine life. At Nanoprecise, we aim to empower companies to achieve sustainability goals through real-time data insights, eco-friendly practices, and a reduced carbon footprint. We’re all about making industries smarter and greener. It starts with smart resource management, ensuring that industries use their assets efficiently by predicting the right time for maintenance, thus saving time, spare parts, and energy. This process also leads to significant energy savings because predictive maintenance identifies and addresses issues early, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. Furthermore, it minimises downtime, ensuring uninterrupted operations, which is not only convenient but also environmentally friendly by reducing energy waste during machine start-up and shutdown. Additionally, it extends the lifespan of machines, reducing the need for replacements and aligning with eco-friendly practices. Overall, our predictive maintenance solutions with real-time monitoring and insights, promotes sustainability by optimising resource usage, conserving energy, and making equipment last longer. It’s our way of helping industries adopt greener and more responsible operational practices. World Cement January 2024

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